Airport warns of redundancies due to lack of passenger services

Carlisle Lake District Airport has warned it will have to make redundancies after confirming it will not be able to reopen passenger services following an easing of lockdown measures.

Scottish airline Loganair said it had “no plans for the foreseeable future to restart flights from Carlisle Airport”.

Bosses at the airport, owned by Carlisle-based Stobart Group, are now exploring options to handle other traffic, such as business, freight and military flights.

The airport issued a statement, saying: “COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the aviation industry and 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.

“UK domestic aviation has been hard hit, particularly in view of the requirement to pay Airline Passenger Duty twice. This reduction in airline operations is likely to continue for some time, particularly as we approach the off-peak Winter season.

“The situation, which affects many regional airports across the UK is, of course, disappointing for all involved, but 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 airport team is taking an innovative approach to identifying new opportunities in general aviation, business aviation, logistics and military flying.

“However, the loss of commercial operations is significant and without the associated operating income we need to review our staffing needs, which will inevitably lead to redundancies.”

It added: “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 to 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.”

The airport, which was originally an RAF airfield, was officially opened on July 4, last year, following two previous planned openings.

Initially, the plan was to serve three destinations, through Scottish airline Loganair, to Belfast City Airport, Dublin, and London Southend, which is also owned by Stobart Group.