‘New’ London airport bids for Irish passengers

London’s “newest” airport believes Irish air travellers will play a key role in its target of reaching one million passengers by the end of next year.

London Southend Airport now offers a sixth option to Irish air passengers flying to the British capital in addition to Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, and London City.

Its operators are hoping that some Irish sports fans travelling to the Olympic Games in London which start on Friday will opt to travel via Southend in Essex to avoid traffic congestion expected at some London airports.

Aer Lingus Regional has been operating three daily return flights to Southend since May, while a twice daily service to Waterford has been operating for the past 18 months.

Both routes are estimated to bring 200,000 passengers through Southend in a full year.

Southend is also a hub for EasyJet which offers connections to several major European destinations including Barcelona, Ibiza, Geneva, and Venice.

Southend was bought by transport group Stobart in 2008 for £21m (€27m), has seen a further investment of around £100m over the past four years.

“Our aim is to re-establish Southend as a viable alternative for flying to and from London as well as serving the local catchment area in Essex which is one of the most heavily populated regions in the UK,” said the airport’s head of business development, Jonathan Rayner.

A station with direct links to London’s Liverpool St station is less than 100 metres from the main airport terminal. The journey takes 53 minutes. “We aim to deliver our customers from plane to train in 15 minutes. We also promise no more than four minutes queuing for security,” said Mr Rayner.

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