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London Southend Airport

June 18th, 2011 No comments

The amazing power an airline like easyJet has was illustrated this week with the news that they are going to fly three A319′s out of Southend airport, meaning over 70 flights a week will be leaving to sunny destinations including Barcelona, Faro and Ibiza.  Read more about it here. This in turn will create 150 jobs and mean other operators may also start to look at the airport seriously as London’s 6th airport.

The news stories generated out of this announcement have certainly put the airport on the map, or rather more accurately back on the map as the airport was in fact London’s third busiest airport in terms of passenger volume until well into the 1970s.  Southend Airport is around 50 minutes on the train to Liverpool Street and passengers will enjoy speedy access through a new terminal building and a flight time that is estimated to be around 15 minutes shorter than via other London airports thanks to the lack of air congestion in the immediate vicinity.

You can be assured that easyJet will have struck a good deal with the airport operator over landing fees.  And in case Southend’s operators get greedy in a few years time and try to increase these fees they should remember how Ryanair pulled out of manchester recently over an argument about just this very issue.

The news also highlights once again the tremendous commercial tour-de-force easyJet and Ryanair have now become.  Where they go passengers follow.  And because of this they have the power to totally transform the fortunes of an area literally overnight, creating jobs and tourism in their wake all with a speed that a regional development agency could only dream of.

So what does it all mean? Will we see other non primary airports around the world grow in prominence as the entrepreneurial operators of these airports attempt to woo carriers away from their larger more expensive incumbent airports? Is this move good or bad for customers? Certainly with the established airports facing very vocal opposition to expansion plans some argue this sort of move is the only card airlines operators have left to play if they want to increase capacity, lower costs and make more (or even some!) profit for their shareholders.

Southend should tread carefully though.  The budget airlines like their flirtations but don’t always want a long term relationship.  Southend may currently be the object of easyJet’s desire but sometimes these sort of relationships just don’t work out.  Or maybe the public just won’t take to it as a place to start their holiday.  Sometimes what should work just doesn’t. Cheryl Cole in X Factor US anyone?  In certain parts of middle england Ryanair is still blamed for ending many a retirement holiday home dream when they pulled a load of French routes a few years ago in a Cowell esque overnight turnaround.

Budget airlines have wondering eyes and get plenty of offers, so I’d say enjoy the flirtation whilst it lasts Southend, but watch that easyJet like a hawk.

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