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Blow for border airport as plane firm pulls out

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By Charlotte MacKay
Front
Blow for border airport as plane firm pulls out

THE future of passenger air services at Carlisle Airport hangs in the balance as a major operator this week confirmed it has “no plans” to resume flights.

Loganair grounded its services at the airport in March and this week a spokesman said there were no plans to resume flights from Carlisle in the foreseeable future.

And Stobart Group, which owns the airport, said the announcement meant redundancies would be “inevitable”.

Glasgow-based Loganair only began offering commercial services to Dublin and Belfast from the border city last summer – the first passenger flights to take off from Carlisle in almost three decades. A spokesman for the airline said: “A significant number of air services across the UK have been suspended or deferred through Covid-19 impacts on demand. The Carlisle services are amongst them.”

Stobart Group said it was working on a recovery plan but it was currently unable to negotiate a new agreement for passenger services A spokeswoman said: “Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the aviation industry and the Carlisle Lake District Airport (CLDA) has felt the full force of this. “The understandable decision by many airlines to cease operations for several months has seen a significant reduction in operations and bases closed across the country “The situation, which affects many regional airports across the UK, is of course disappointing for all involved.

“As a result of this backdrop, CLDA is not currently in a position to secure a passenger airline agreement on commercial terms, with airlines currently focused on flights between major population hubs.”

The spokeswoman said the CLDA team was taking an “innovative approach” to identifying new opportunities for the airport in general and business aviation, logistics and military flying.

But she continued: “However, the loss of commercial operations is significant and without the associated operating income we need to review our staffing levels, which will inevitably lead to redundancies. We continue in our endeavours to gain fully funded Public Service Obligation (PSO) routes and Freeport status. Gaining PSO routes would support regional connectivity, enable key air links across the UK and help address economic rebalance. “We are also playing a significant role in the region’s Freeport application and the combination of PSO routes and Freeport status would deliver a material boost for the region’s economy. We are committed to making Carlisle Lake District Airport a success and are currently working on our recovery plan to reopen the airport.”

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