Fly to the Lake District from Southend Next Summer
Flights to Carlisle from Southend Airport will finally begin in 2018, Stobart has announced.
The route will be operated by Stobart Air, the owner of which, Stobart Group, also owns both Southend and Carlisle Airports. It will be the first route operated wholly by Stobart Air, which currently operates 17 routes under a franchise agreement with Flybe.
Glyn Jones, CEO of Southend Airport, has confirmed the route. “The first new commercial flights from London Southend Airport to Carlisle [will commence] next year, employing Stobart Air as a partner carrier.”
It is primarily aimed at boosting links between Carlisle and London as part of the Northern Powerhouse scheme, but will also give Essex holidaymakers access to the Lake District, the largest National Park in England and a UNESCO World Heritage Site – a status it earned earlier this month.
The Lake District sees more than 18 million visitors per year and is set across 2362 square kilometres. It includes the highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike, which stands at 978 metres and the largest lake in England, Lake Windermere, which is almost 15 square kilometres and is 17 kilometres long.
Funding for the flights was first announced by former Chancellor George Osborne in the 2015 Autumn Statement as part of the Regional Air Connectivity Fund, a pot of £7million to support flights across all regions of the UK.
The flights were originally expected to begin in spring 2016, however no progress was made on the route. A Department for Transport spokesperson said the funding has always been available during this time, and that it was “a commercial decision for the airline to decide when, and if, services begin”.
The money will mainly be used to improve the infrastructure at Carlisle Airport. Warwick Brady, Deputy CEO of Stobart Group, said that “the new funding will help ‘fast forward’ the works” required to get the airport operating commercially from summer 2018. He said that he wanted to “replicate the success of London Southend Airport in Carlisle”.
Like it did at Southend Airport, Stobart’s plans for Carlisle include regeneration of the runway and a new passenger terminal.
Jake Berry MP, the Northern Powerhouse minister, said that connecting Cumbria with Southend will support the government’s ambitions of “promoting innovation, developing skills and increasing connectivity throughout the region”. He added that it will aid the government’s plans to “rebalance the economy”.
Carlisle will be the fourth domestic route available from Southend Airport, alongside Manchester, Glasgow and Jersey.