Established at the start of the First World War by the Royal Flying Corps, there has been an airfield in that part of Southend for almost 100 years.
To celebrate the coming centenary, there has been a major expansion featuring a new runway, a control tower and a state of the art railway station.
Now called ‘London Southend Airport’, it will start to host Easyjet flights from April after the £100m investment – surprisingly coming from the company of haulage magnate Eddie Stobart (Stobart Air already owns and operates the Lake District Airport near Carlisle).
Once the third largest airport in the UK, London Southend Airport now boasts a travel time to the capital of just 52 minutes (similar to that from Stanstead) with the added perk of having the Olympic Park en route.
For the local economy, the airport will bring an expected two million passengers a year to the area within the next decade as well as creating 500 jobs for the region.
The new flights from Easyjet will take passengers to European holiday destinations with eight currently scheduled to start next month to Alicante, Amsterdam, Belfast, Barcelona, Faro, Ibiza, Majorca and Malaga with flights to Jersey set to start the following month. These are in addition to the Aer Arran flights to Waterford and a planned service from Aer Lingus to Dublin (with connections to transatlantic destinations) due to begin in May.
“Regional airports have an important role to play in this country's national infrastructure,” said Transport Secretary Justine Greening MP. “And this impressive new facility comes at a key time - perfectly positioned for the 2012 Games just a train ride away in Stratford.”
Stobart Group CEO Andrew Tinkler added: “We are extremely proud of the work we have done here at London Southend Airport. Since early 2009 we have worked very hard to deliver on the promises we’ve made around bringing the airport back to a new era of prosperity.”