A Return to "London" Southend

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Regular readers would remember an earlier post about “London” Southend Airport’s redevelopment, which can be seen here. Given the role that the region’s airports play (and will continue to play) in London’s transport infrastructure, it seems worth taking the time to look once again at what is afoot outside London’s more well know air connections.

At the time of writing in October 2010, there were only chartered flights to Jersey and Belfast. Frankfurt was the only city that had said that it wanted to run commercial flights to/from the small airport in New Rochford, south-east Essex. Now, EasyJet is planning to fly from what is perhaps optimistically being classed by the London Evening Standard as “a new international airport for London.”

Flights will start from April next year to destinations such as Faro, Barcelona and Ibiza. By the Olympics, EasyJet hope to also be flying to Amsterdam, Berlin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast and Milan. EasyJet will initially hire more than 150 staff to cover the 70 weekly flights, which will include pilots, cabin crew and ground staff.

London Southend Airport’s managing director, Alastair Welch, said:

We are delighted to announce our partnership with EasyJet, servicing a comprehensive variety of routes into Europe. It’s an ideal gateway for both business and leisure travel across Europe. Our size means no passenger will ever queue for more than four minutes for security, and as we’re designed the airport only for short-haul travel, with 10 aircraft stands, there won’t be long distances to travel through the terminal.

We’re working with the Department for Transport over airspace for the Olympics, and hope to benefit as capacity for parking and air space in London during the Games will be tight,” he said. “We’re close to Stratford but avoid the most congested part of London’s airspace, so we’re seeing a lot of interest both in the air from scheduled carriers and on the ground from private jet owners looking to park their aircraft here. The Games will be a platform to showcase what Southend does really well, and build on that for the future.”

The upgrade of the airport also continues to progress, with the new control tower now having been built, and runway extensions and a new terminal building to be finished by the autumn. As mentioned in the previous article, a new train station, built specifically for the airport, is due to open this summer. This will negate the need to change at Rochford for a bus.

As it stands, EasyJet have signed a ten-year contract with Southend and both operators want the airport to excel at business travel, whether this will indeed prove to be the case, remains to be seen.

Written by George Moore