LONDON – On Thursday, July 4th 2019 the UK’s newest passenger terminal opened its doors to travellers, Carlisle.
Scottish airline Loganair, Carlisle’s launch airline fly to Dublin, Belfast City and London Southend, offering 500 seats per week from the Cumbrian Airport.
The last commercial flight out of Carlisle was over 25 years ago. On the airport’s fifth day of operation, I flew to Dublin to find out what Loganair and Carlisle Airport have to offer.
Carlisle Airport – A Brief History
Opened by The City of Carlisle County Borough Council the 1930s as Kingstown Municipal Airport, which later became RAG Kingston during World War Two.
In 1960 the Cumbrian Community Council bought the Airport and renamed it to Carlisle Airport. Commercial flights started in 1961, between London, the Channel Islands, Belfast and the Isle of Man. In 1968, it was transferred over to Carlisle City Council.
In 1993, flights were suspended, as the airport made a loss of £3.5 million between 1979 and 1994. Plans were put forward to return the airport to passenger service in 1997, which included extending the runway to accommodate Boeing 737s, whoever this plan collapsed.
The site was sold to Haughney Airports in 2000, on a 150-year lease. In 2006, it was then sold to WA developments limited, before the site was eventually sold to the Stobart Group in 2009 for £9.9 million.
Stobart has since continued to develop around the airfield, which has continued to operate for General Aviation. The Stobart group has its main distribution centre and their headquarters at Carlisle.
Stobart originally tried to restart passenger flights in 2010, but the plans were objected by a farmer. Stobart Group also owners London Southend. Carlisle Airport is also home to the Solway Aviation Museum.
In 2017, The Cumbaira’ Local Enterprise Partnership gave the Sobatt group £4.75 million to build a new Terminal and upgrade the runway. The airport was supposed to start operations in Summer 2018, which was later pushed back to September 2018 and again pushed back until July 4th, 2019.
Airline: Loganair Operated By Nyxair
Aircraft: Saab 340B
Flight Number/Callsign: LM0635/LOG635
Seat: Seat 3A
Flight Time: 50 Minutes
Cruise Altitude: 14000FT/FL140
Date: 8th July 2019
Route: Carlisle (CAX/EGNC) to Dublin (DUB/EIDW)
Passing through the Terminal and boarding
Getting to Carlisle airport from the city centre is very straight forward. There is a free shuttle bus from Carlisle Train station, directly to the Airport, which is around 8 miles out from the city centre.
Parking at the airport is also free, which definitely an added incentive for the potential passenger to fly from Carlisle. I was meeting with a friend at Carlisle train station, so I didn’t need to use the bus, but the free car parking definitely came in handy.
Before you reach the terminal you cut off at a roundabout, which takes you past SStobart’smain distribution centre, which absolutely dwarfs the terminal. Carlisle Airport’s terminal is small and modern.
There’s a little cafe, which two check-in desks and a small business lounge. I never looked into accessing it when I booked this trip.
Passengers go through security then board the plane shortly after, the cafe also has outdoor seating, at the front of the Terminal, so if the weather is good, a rarity in the UK, you can sit outside.
Around 30 minutes before the flight was scheduled to depart, an announcement was made for all passengers to go through security. My Dublin flight was during the afternoon and was the last flight of the day.
The Dublin flight is usually the first flight of the day. Passengers are whizzed straight through security, then they are at the gate. A very personal one on one experience, which makes for a very relaxing atmosphere.
Each member of staff pleasant and chatty, asking how your day was and what your travel plans were. Me doing this trip for the novelty and enthusiast reasons, I explained my trip and they all seemed interested.
Right at the gate, my boarding pass was scanned, then the UK border force asked the same questions as security in the airport, all staff were again very friendly.
As I boarded my Loganair aircraft, a near 30-year-old Saab 340. This aircraft is in fact operated by Nyxair. I was greeted by a today’s flight attendant, who was a Loganair one, the Scottish accent was a dead giveaway.
She was very friendly and cheerful, treating each passenger as an individual, as they boarded. My seat for the flight was seat 3A. One thing to note. On Loganair’s own aircraft, row 3 doesn’t have a window, on Nyxair’s aircraft its row 2.
Today’s flight will take around 50 minutes, routing over the Irish Sea and directly over the Isle of Man, with a cruising altitude of 14000ft. Sadly due to a low cloud base for most of the flight, didn’t get to see the Isle of Man, which was something I was looking forward to. Bang on the scheduled departure time, the engines were started and we taxied out for departure.
We lined up for a westerly facing departure off. We held on the runway for around a minute, before the two noisy GE CT7 engines were throttled to full power. The climb out was impressive, quite steep.
The Saab 340 was noisey, as expected with propeller aircraft, but the seats were really comfortable. The overhead panel area with very retro like. Something I love to see when flying on classic aircraft types.
There were only two ways passengers would know the aircraft was operated by Nyxair was the safety card, which had Nyxair written on the top of it. The other way was the announcements made by the crew.
Around 5 minutes after takeoff, the flight attendant started the inflight service. Loganair offers a complimentary drink and snack onboard most of their flights, apart from their short island hops in the North of Scotland.
I opted for a diet coke and the infamous Tunnocks caramel wafer, a Scottish delight, very fitting given Loganair is Scotland’s only scheduled airline. The service was quick, with each passenger getting treated as an individual like, in Carlisle Airport, the personal touch really added to the whole experience.
Tunnocks caramel wafers taste great, They are something anyone visiting Scotland should try and Tunnocks teacakes. I’m fortunate enough to live in Scotland to be able to buy these infamous treats all the time.
Not long after I finished my snack, the descent into Dublin had already started. We held for 10 minutes, before eventually landing on runway 28. The approach to Dublin is stunning as always.
From the left side, I could see the City very clearly. A smooth touchdown with minimum braking, followed by a 5-minute taxi to the gate at Terminal 1.
Dublin Airport has two terminals, which are both linked together. Once the engines were shut down, the flight attendant opened the door.
As every passenger was disembarking the plane, they all get a very cheerful and friendly goodbye. Within 15 minutes I passed through Border Control and was on a bus heading into the City Centre.
Overall, this flying experience was different from what I’m used to. Usually, I’m used to the generic international airport, with hundreds, maybe thousands of people waiting for flights around the same time and with standard customer service.
The experience was very one on one and I have to say, flying through a much smaller airport is different, I really enjoyed it and it’s far more relaxing.
As for Loganair, their cheerful one on one service is superb and the complimentary drink and snack adds to it. After this flight, I would definitely look into using regional airports more often.
I would also fly with Loghanair again as their onboard service stands out. Looking forward to my next Loganair flight, whenever that may be.