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Saturday, 29 November 2014

Airline shake-up ‘no danger to Carlisle airport’

Stobart Group says that plans for scheduled flights from Carlisle Airport will be unaffected by a shake-up at airline Aer Arann.

Carlisle Airport photo
Carlisle Airport

The Irish operator, which trades as Aer Lingus Regional, had announced plans to launch Carlisle to London Southend and Carlisle to Dublin services once Stobart’s redevelopment of Carlisle Airport allowed.

However, it has just announced a retrenchment, axing three routes and withdrawing from Waterford Airport in Ireland completely from early January.

Stobart Group, a major shareholder in Aer Arann, says the route closures have no bearing on the proposals for Carlisle Airport.

A Stobart spokesman said: “Aer Arann has an exciting business plan for growth and is concentrating its resources on services that offer sustainable returns. It continues to see the potential for new routes, such as Carlisle.”

Aer Arann withdrew its only non-Irish route, Isle of Man to London City Airport, in April. But it has also launched new services this year; from Dublin to London Southend, Knock to Birmingham and from Shannon to Rennes in Brittany.

The company said previously that it would station a 48-seater ATR42 aircraft at Carlisle which would provide twice-daily flights to and from London Southend with fares starting from £25.99 including taxes.

There would also be a daily flight to Dublin, offering onward connections to Europe and the U.S. from £24.99.

Aer Arann expects to carry 40,000 passengers on the London route and 20,000 to Dublin in the first year.

City councillors approved Stobart’s £25m redevelopment scheme in August.

The company wants to build a 394,000sq ft freight distribution centre and to resurface the runway.

But planning consent has still not be confirmed.

The council is taking legal advice on an objector’s claim that allowing the development would amount to “illegal state aid” under European law.

And Stobart has yet to sign a binding agreement to keep the airport open unless it can show it is not viable.

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