Momentum is gathering behind the push to secure freeport status for Carlisle Lake District Airport.

Kate Willard, head of corporate projects at airport owners Stobart Group and Carlisle City Council chief executive Jason Gooding have met to thrash out the next steps in the bid process.

Businesses located within a freeport zone can import, store products in a warehouse and re-export products duty-free.

No airports in the UK currently hold designated freeport status due to European Union (EU) legislation.

The model is, however, used extensively in the United States, with businesses benefitting from little or no checks, as well as tariff and tax benefits.

In September the Government pledged to consider proposals for the city’s airport to become a freeport post-Brexit – although since then a General Election has been called and the terms on which the UK will leave the EU remain unclear.

However, its backers remain undeterred given the “great potential” for the great swathes of land at the airport and the site’s strong transport links.

The city council has pledged its support to the freeport status bid, while Stobart Group says its logistical expertise and heritage will ensure its success for both Carlisle and the Borderlands region.

Mrs Willard, said: “It was great to sit down with Jason to map-out where we go next with our freeport bid, which we are very excited and enthused about. 

“It’s fantastic to have the council onboard and we are hoping that more local and regional stakeholders will back our proposal as we continue to put Cumbria and the Lake District on the business map.”

Mr Gooding said a freeport at the airport site “can be a game-changer for our area”.

“A freeport would be a fantastic opportunity for Carlisle and the wider Borderlands region. 

“I’m determined to work with Carlisle Lake District Airport to make this bid a success and secure the economic benefits that a freeport can offer.”

The future of any bid however, will depend on the outcome of the General Election on December 12.

The current Government launched an advisory panel earlier this year to spearhead the ideas, airports and seaports across the UK to be invited to bid to become one of up to 10 freeports.

The idea has been pushed by Carlisle’s Conservative candidate John Stevenson, which he believes will bring employment to the region and boost the local economy.

However, Labour candidate Ruth Alcroft has warned that the status is not a post-Brexit “silver bullet”, expressing concerns that global corporations may move in to “exploit tax breaks and reduce workers’ rights”.

It is highly unlikely that any decision will be made during a year that saw commercial flights start at Carlisle for the first time in more than 25 years.

The much-anticipated launch – which followed two delays – drew national attention, with the then transport secretary Chris Grayling and Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry among the dignitaries to mark the occasion.

Business leaders hailed July 4 as a historic day for Cumbria, waxing lyrical about the its huge potential to fuel the growth of the county’s economy and further expand the county’s tourism industry.

Since then, the airport and has seen hundreds of flights and passengers, with Loganair offering air links to and from Dublin Airport, London Southend Airport and Belfast City Airport.