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London will have new international airport

London will have new international airport

New international airport for London as easyJet commit to Southend

» Aviation - UK | Thursday, June 16, 2011 • Air News Times
London will have a major new international airport ahead of the Olympics after easyJet today announced it will fly 800,000 passengers a year from Europe into Southend Airport.

The budget carrier plans to launch flights from Amsterdam's global hub airport, plus Barcelona, Madrid, Milan, Berlin, and Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast into Southend ahead of the Games next summer. EasyJet is initially hiring more than 150 staff to cover 70 weekly flights to its first ten destinations - which will include Barcelona, Faro and Ibiza - in April. It will then increase capacity for the Olympics.

"In summer 2012 we're expecting to see huge demand from passengers right around Europe to come to London," said Catherine Lynn, easyJet's customer and revenue director. "We expect easyJet to fly more people into London next summer than any other airline, and Southend will be the closest large airport to the Olympics. We're going to maintain our regular services - this is opportunity to increase our capacity."

The announcement marks the first sign of successful regeneration of Southend airport by Stobart Group, the trucking firm which bought it in 2008 for £21 million. Stobart is spending£60 million on the site, which was the third-biggest airport in the UK in the 1960s. It has build a new control tower and is completing a runway extension and new terminal building, which is due to be finished this autumn. Stobart has also built a railway station where eight trains an hour will make the 40-minute journey to Stratford. It takes 52 minutes to get into Liverpool Street and the City. A new hotel will open next year.

EasyJet is the first major airline to sign up to Southend, which currently only serves three destinations, in Ireland and Jersey. The latest deal means Stansted will no longer be the only way in and out of Essex. "We're expecting a high proportion of people from Essex and London to Spain and other leisure destinations to use Southend," said Lynn. "It will be a mixture of beach and city destinations, plus business travel."

Southend airport is aiming to transport one million passengers next year, and to double that the following year.

"It's an ideal gateway for both business and leisure travel across Europe," said London Southend Airport's managing director, Alastair Welch. "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."

Welch said "no one apart from China" would build an airport just for the Olympics, but believes Southend will benefit significantly from next year's events. "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."

Easyjet has signed a ten-year contract with Southend and both operators want the airport to excel at business travel. Stobart is
promising that passengers with only hand luggage will get from plane to train in 15 minutes.

EasyJet's Lynn added: "The journey time into the city centre will be really competitive. On an inbound basis we're expecting a very healthy proportion of business travellers."
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