London’s sixth major airport, Southend has restarted passenger flights for the Summer 2023 after a pause in passenger operations over the winter season.
Budget airline easyJet Europe kicked off the flights with the first flight arriving from Malaga 38 minutes late at 09:28am (BST), due to French ATC strikes.
OE-IJO was the aircraft operating flight U27007/U27008 and made a swift turnaround before heading out back to Malaga at 10:25am (BST).
To celebrate the restart of flights, Southend set up what was known as the “Selfie Snug” where passengers could sit down with a “Malaga” sign and get their photograph taken before jetting off for some Spring sun.
In addition, the airport’s CEO, John Upton was their to greet passengers as they flew off on the first flight.
John also praised the relaunch flights saying: “On behalf of myself and the incredible team at London Southend, it is with great pleasure that we are once again able to do what we do best and serve our passengers, alongside our airline partner easyJet”
Ali Gayward, easyJet’s UK Country Manager also commented on the relaunch of flights saying: “We are delighted to be flying once again from Southend Airport this summer, providing customers with convenient direct connections to explore or relax in some of Europe’s most popular beach destinations”.
Growth expected for London’s 6th airport
Whilst the airport is starting off slow with only 2 flights per week to Malaga, growth over the summer season will be happening, with the airport looking to grow to 18 flights per week to 4 destinations.
These destinations include Faro, Palma De Mallorca and a new addition for Summer 2023, Amsterdam.
However 18 flights per week is a fraction of what the airport used to offer. This is because Southend at its peak in 2019, used to offer up to 40 destinations with 10s more flights per week.
The pandemic then came and wiped out any hope for the airport with easyJet and Ryanair closing its bases, Stobart Air ceasing operations and other airlines including Wizzair pulling out. This left the airport with no passenger airlines by the end of Summer 2021.
Since 2021, the airport has been eager to get back on its feet and return to its pre-covid glory, with easyJet making a minimal return last year for Summer 2022 with flights to Malaga, Palma and Faro.
Although growth has been slow since airlines in the UK simply see more value in the larger airports around the UK.
Therefore, it seems it may take London airports and to reach near if not full capacity before airlines start to turn to smaller airports like Southend.
Despite this ongoing problem and slow growth, the airport has constantly reassured its customers that the airport is working tirelessly to bring back top destinations to the route map, with the most notable being Alicante.
CEO, John Upton reiterated this today saying: “We know that our passengers are our greatest advocates. That’s why we are working night and day to secure more destinations and more airline partners. We look forward to providing updates on our progress”.
Sights set on the future
With Southend ready for Summer 2023, behind closed doors the airport is looking to expand and regain old routes airlines and secure new ones.
Currently the airport has said they are working to get customer favourite destinations back, with the most popular one being Alicante.
However they are looking further afield with the likes of Groningen, Netherlands and Strasbourg, France being hinted as possible destinations for the future as they are currently unserved by any airline out of London.
With this in mind, it seems the airport is knuckling down to get more destinations and it is only a matter of time before the work pays off for Southend.