AFTER years in the making, the long-awaited start of commercial flights from Carlisle Lake District Airport is set to take place today.

While the opening will mark a significant day in the county’s history, it will also be the first commercial airport in the UK to launch in more than 14 years.

At 8am, the first flight by Scottish airline Loganair will take off on the short journey across the sea to the Republic of Ireland capital, Dublin.

This will be followed by two further flights to Belfast in Northern Ireland and London Southend at 11.40am and 2.20pm.

Each week, there will be five flights from Carlisle to Belfast and Dublin, with four to London.

The airline will use a Saab 340 aircraft for all three journeys, which has the capacity to take up to 34 passengers.

A spokesman from Loganair gave us a preview of what passengers can expect on board,

“Customers flying to London Southend, Dublin or Belfast with Loganair will be welcomed onboard a Saab 340 aircraft by the airline’s cabin crew, sporting its unique tartan uniform.

“Once in the air they will be treated to complimentary tea, coffee or soft drink as well as a snack - which includes Scotland’s iconic Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers,” he said.

“All tickets include 20kg of complimentary baggage as well as a 6kg carry on allowance, so customers don’t need to worry about paying extra to bring their holiday essentials. Business travellers will also be interested in the airline’s flexible ticket options which include last minute schedule changes, free of charge.

“Customers departing from Carlisle Lake District Airport will be able to travel to London Southend Airport with a journey time of only one hour and 25 minutes, before transferring onto the airport’s conveniently located dedicated train station and catching one of six services per hour directly into London Liverpool Street Station.

“Meanwhile Dublin is only one hour and 15 minutes away while Belfast is a short 50 minute flight,” he added.

The launch has been hailed as an exciting day for Carlisle, Cumbria and the county’s £3bn tourism industry, by Gill Haigh, managing director of Cumbria Tourism.

 “Opening up new markets is vital in a competitive and fast-paced visitor economy." she said. 

“We know from working with the Irish markets, that there is a huge appetite for these new routes and there is a great opportunity to link up with transatlantic flights and the lucrative US market.

“Our own visitor survey also demonstrates a growth in visitors from the south east, so the airport is providing further accessibility and convenience for these passengers.

“Just imagine being in a busy central London office on a Friday afternoon and then dipping your toes in the lake as you enjoy the sunset over the stunning Lakeland fells later that same evening!

“With culture and heritage, adventure, and authentic food and drink, this new alternative transport option brings some unique experiences closer to people than ever before.”

Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, added: “Having a functioning airport creates real opportunities for Cumbria.

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“It will boost inbound tourism, make it easier for businesses to bring in customers and for exporters to visit new markets.

“We are particularly excited by the Dublin route because it’s an international hub with onward connections to the US and other destinations.

Rob also hopes the London service will grow in future.

“Originally, Loganair had planned to offer a twice-daily service to Southend that would have allowed businesses to spend the day in London. They’ve dropped that but we’d like to see it happen one day.”

He added: “The airport is a significant investment and a vote of confidence in Cumbria’s economy.

“We wish Stobart Group and Loganair well and hope the venture grows and prospers.”