Esken, the parent company of Southend Airport, has confirmed that it is putting the airport up for sale. The company had originally announced in March 2023 that it was exploring the sale of the airport.
Esken is a British infrastructure company that owns and operates a number of assets, including Southend Airport, Carlisle Lake District Airport, and the Stobart Rail freight business.
Securing the long-term potential
At the time of the original announcement of a possible sale, Esken said that it was in the best interests of all stakeholders to secure the long-term potential of the airport and deliver value for all shareholders through a managed disposal process.
The initial planning of the sale of Southend Airport commenced, with the “key objective” being to find the right buyer. The buyer would need to support the growth prospects of the airport over the long term and benefit airline partners, customers and stakeholders.
At the time, Esken said that it expected the sale process to take several months, and that it would provide further updates in due course.
Esken history with Southend Airport
Esken originally bought Southend Airport on December 5, 2008, through its subsidiary Stobart Airports Ltd.
The deal was worth £21 million. At the time, the book value of London Southend Airport’s assets were £25.5 million, and the acquisition was later described as a “bargain purchase” by the Stobart Group.
Like many airport facilities, the protracted Coronavirus pandemic period and the subsequent tightening of travel restrictions took its toll on Southend Airport.
As a result, the airport only reopened its terminal to commercial passengers in summer last year. The airport’s revenue fell by 90% in 2020, and it has seen the struggle to recover.
Last year, the £50 million borrowing was made to keep the airport complex afloat, with major carriers Ryanair and Wizzair suspending their operations, leaving only the return of easyJet as a major carrier.
In 2022, the airport saw just 90,000 roundtrip commercial passengers, according to the UK Civil Aviation Authority. That was just 4.4% of the two million it had in 2019 when it was the UK’s 18th busiest airport.
In 2022, the airport only had four summer-seasonal offerings by easyJet, including returning Amsterdam, previously Southend’s most popular route.
The sale of the facility is seen as a way to secure a long-term future for Southend Airport and help it recover from the challenges it has faced in recent years.