Plane indicates size of things to come at Carlisle Airport
Last updated at 09:32, Friday, 20 September 2013
Stobart Group chief executive Andrew Tinkler hopes a historic landing will ease some concerns over his firm’s plans to redevelop Carlisle Airport.
A plane of the type that would be used for scheduled passenger flights has touched down at the airport for the first time – giving people an idea of the size of aircraft that would be used and highlighting their international connections.
The 42-seater ATR-42 twin-prop plane was one of the attractions at the massive Stobart Fest over the weekend, which showcased the parts of the company’s Eddie Stobart fleet to thousands of its followers.
Its landing was just days ahead of legal talks in London yesterday to set a date for a judicial review into a city council decision to allow the airport’s long-debated overhaul to go ahead.
Stobart Group wants to build a 394,000sq ft freight distribution centre and to resurface the runway for scheduled passenger flights to London Southend and Dublin.
Planning permission was granted in February, but is being challenged by Irthington farmer Gordon Brown.
Mr Tinkler hopes the arrival of the plane will quell concerns among those worried about the size of aircraft that could operate from Carlisle.
And he’s also hopeful that the Transatlantic connections from the city may offer could become a key asset for Cumbria’s economy.
The county-based businessman said: “We’ve brought the plane to prove the sort of thing that can fly from here so people can better understand what we are trying to do from Carlisle Airport.
“One of the advantages of flying from Carlisle, especially to Dublin, is it allows you to do Transatlantic journeys. You could get to New York in nine hours 55 minutes.
“You could pass through customs and immigration at Dublin so you can save time when you’re on the ground in America. To go to New York from here at the moment you would have to go to Newcastle, Manchester or even Amsterdam.
“We believe we can have an efficient service, especially with all the decommissioning work at Sellafield, where you have a lot of Americans visiting and working in the area. We believe the service will give them a simple connection.”
If the overhaul gets off the ground, Stobart’s plans are for a twice daily service to and from London Southend Airport, which the firm also owns, and once-a-day to Dublin.
On the London route, Mr Tinkler added: “The times we would fly would compete with the trains due to the fact it’s probably an hour to fly down there then 50 minutes into the centre of London.”
Stobart would run flights through Aer Arran, of which the company is the major shareholder, operating as Aer Lingus Regional.
The firm’s launching flights to Dublin from Newcastle next month.
Mr Brown, who lives opposite Carlisle Airport, has been given permission to apply for a judicial review of the council decision, with High Court Judge saying he has an “arguable case” on six grounds – points that will be contested by the authority.
They include a claim that legal agreement between the council and Stobart Group – requiring Stobart to keep the airport open unless the company can show it is unviable – is “unenforceable” and that the consent may amount to “unlawful state aid” under European law, so the council should have notified the European Commission.
First published at 09:31, Friday, 20 September 2013
Published by http://www.cumberlandnews.co.uk
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