Commercial flights from Carlisle airport will begin in July – four months later than pledged.

Stobart Group, which owns Carlisle Lake District Airport, has announced that Loganair flights to Southend, Belfast and Dublin, will begin on July 4.

Flights go on sale today.

It has already delayed two launches, last May and September and promised that flights would begin in spring this year.

A shortage of air traffic controllers and infrastructure issues at the airport meant Stobart Group was forced to pull the plug last year.

Flights were originally meant to begin on June 4 2018.

But Stobart Group said today that American Independence Day was also D-Day for the first commercial flights from Carlisle in more than 25 years.

Enough air traffic controllers have now been recruited and are undergoing the final tranche of training that will allow them to operate from Carlisle.

Kate Willard, director of partnership development for Stobart Group, said: “The team have been working around the clock and have been amazing since the very start of the project.

"I would also like to thank the people of Carlisle, Cumbria and the Lake District and our partners for their patience.

“Despite the delays, the last commercial flights at Carlisle Lake District Airport were in 1993 and we are chuffed that we are bringing them back to the region for the first time in more than 25 years.”

Jonathan Hinkles, managing director of Loganair, said: “These air services will significantly benefit the overall Carlisle and Borderlands region, attracting thousands of tourists and enhancing connectivity for those wishing to do business at both ends of the routes.”

Jason Gooding, chief executive of Carlisle City Council, said: “This is great news for Carlisle and the Borderlands region. I’m grateful to Stobart Group for the confidence they continue to have in our place.

“Their vision and persistence has delivered a fantastic regional airport, which is a key asset for Carlisle’s bright future. It’s not just our cousins across the Atlantic who’ll be celebrating on July 4!"

Gill Haigh, managing director of Cumbria Tourism, said: “This is great news for Cumbria’s connectivity and will be welcomed by businesses across the county’s thriving £2.9 billion tourism industry.

“The flights through Carlisle Lake District Airport will open up new markets and give potential visitors new alternative transport options to come and explore iconic landscapes and experiences throughout Cumbria.

"We will continue to work with the airport, businesses and partners to ensure we can all make the most of this exciting new development.”

Lord Inglewood, chair of the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Carlisle airport has the potential to be an increasingly important travel hub for Cumbria in terms of tourism, related business and freight.

"New passenger air routes into the county will give the visitor economy a boost, with easier access to our two World Heritage sites and a host of Cumbria’s other attractions.”

Aviation Minister Liz Sugg said: “The return of commercial flights from Carlisle Lake District Airport means better connections for the region, a boost to tourism and significant opportunities for businesses in the area."

The project received the support of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in 2017, with a commitment of £4.95m for the development of the airport.