The first commercial flight in 26 years has taken off from Carlisle airport.

The 8am Loganair service to Dublin, with around 30 passengers, took off at 8.10am.

Staff and guests gathered on the apron to watch the take-off and cheered as the plane left the ground.

At 6am, an interfaith blessing took place at the midpoint of the runway, blessing the buildings, staff, planes and passengers, led by Archdeacon of Carlisle Lee Townend, who was joined by Aftab Khan, of Cumbria Interfaith, David Newlove, Methodist superintendent, Mel and Steve Scoulding, of the Salvation Army and Sarah Moore, area president of United Reformed Church.

Kate Willard, director of partnerships at Stobart Group, said: "This is something that Cumbria, Carlisle and the Borderlands can be really proud. We are standing on this runway, on the tummy button of the airport and it's thanks to the hard work of the team that we have this airport.

"People have been saying 'oh it's a proper airport'. Well Carlisle and Cumbria deserve a proper airport."

The Lord's Prayer was recited and a verse from Psalms was read.

Before the flight took off, it taxied through a water arch, provided by hoses from the airport's fire engines – a traditional way to mark the launching of a new route.

Passengers had begun gathering in the terminal from about 6am but Philip Powell, 42, of Bristol, was first.

He arrived in Carlisle on the sleeper train this morning so he could be one of the first passengers on the first flight out of the city to Dublin.

He arrived in the airport at around 5.20am.

A travel fan, he said: “I could not miss the opportunity to get on the first flight. I’m going to land in Dublin, travel over to Cork and fly back to London tonight.”

He became the Borderlands’ Café first flying customer, with a full English breakfast, which Stobart Group gave him for free.

Harry and Janis Paterson, of Seascale, were flying to Dublin to see their son, Ewan and their grandchildren.

Janis said: "We had to get on the first flight. It's been a lovely experience so far. We travel to Dublin three or four times a year, so it's going to make a difference to us."

Harry said: "It's a nice place, very spacious. It's really easy to park too."

Leona and David Cameron, of Carlisle, were travelling to Dublin for a long weekend.

Leona, 50, said: "The opportunity came up to fly to Dublin and we thought we just would. This airport makes a huge difference, it's just so easy - free parking, no motorways to travel down. It's really homely and intimate too."

Gill Haigh, managing director of Cumbria Tourism, said: "I witnessed the blessing of the runway and being there felt really special. It makes it all real, too.

"Over the last 18 months, I have seen Stobart Group overcome challenges and they have been utterly determined to get this place open, and now it is.

"It's incredible and opens up huge opportunities for Cumbria to increase visitor numbers."

The flight from Dublin arrived seven minutes early, and among the passengers was Margaret Moriarty, of Limerick. She had flown in to see her friends Helen and John Marriott, of Carlisle.

Margaret said: "It's been a few years since I have visited Helen and John because it is so awkward to get here. It feels like it takes two days to get here via ferry and bus.

"But this is great. I left home at 5.30am and I arrived at 11am."

Helen added: "It's amazing. We have family in Ireland and have booked our flights for August to go and see family. It's minutes down the road, it's great."