The airport currently operates short-haul flights to Ireland (Galway and Waterford) and Jersey but a new multi-million pound terminal which opens this autumn will be able to accommodate up to 800,000 passengers in its first year. Passenger number are set to take off – two million passengers are expected to pass through Southend by 2019 (compared to just 48,000 in 2008).
EasyJet expects to hire 150 people for jobs at the airport and will base three A319 planes at Southend to service ten European destinations including the popular holiday airports Barcelona, Ibiza and Faro.
The airline already flies from London Stansted (also geographically in Essex). Fast travel to and from Southend is possible thanks to a high speed rail link. Southend Airport’s new rail station will run fast and frequent trains between Southend and Stratford (42 mins), for Docklands, Canary Wharf and also London Liverpool Street (49 mins), which will help boost the new hub.
EasyJet’s customer and revenue director Catherine Lynn said: “We are excited to be opening Southend. The ccis in a fantastic location just outside London with a fast rail link into the city.
Until now, Southend has mainly been used by private business jets and for aircraft maintenance. Currently Flybe and Aer Arann are the only commercial airlines that fly from the airport.
The new EasyJet Southend route tickets go on sale this July, with 70 flights a week planned initially. With the 2012 London Olympics in mind, EasyJet signed the 10-year deal which will allow it to use Southend as one of its main UK hubs.