Southend: Six Months Of Airport Success

It has been six months since the new terminal opened at Southend Airport and it says it is already boosting the local economy.

The terminal was one stage of a major development of the airport, which has seen new routes established to places like Dublin and the addition of Aer Lingus Regional as a carrier based at the aiport, as well as EasyJet.

Johnny Rayner, the Business Development Manager for the airport,  says these links are essential for Southend's growth.

"We can now connect onto New York, Chicago, Boston and Orlando [through Dublin]," he told Heart.

"You can clear the department of homeland security checks in Dublin, so the time you spend on the ground for your connecting flight you can process through that so when you land you arrive as a domestic passenger so you can walk out onto US soil rather than going through that difficult process at the Department of Homeland Security.

"For any businesses who have interests in Ireland generally and in the States generally, [they] will now consider Southend as a place where they can set up and where they can get easy access between the two places."

He also says the Southend area has also seen a more immediate impact because of the new terminal and the increase in routes.

"The airport's development really represents a material change for Southend," Mr Rayner adds.

"This summer we will be employing 500 people additionally on-site in compared to how many we employed in summer 2011.

"Beyond that in the wider area there are other job creations and as the airport develops we anticipate that figure rising up to around 7,000 direct or in-direct jobs in the area in the course of the next five to 10 years"

However, the new terminal - which opened on March 5 2012 - is not the end of the development. The airport is aiming to serve, two million passengers a year by 2020.

Mr Rayner says they anticipate more changes to make this possible, both in terms of facilities and airline options.

"We're looking forward to extending the terminal as well so that job growth should continue," he told Heart.

"We're delighted with where we are [in terms of the number of airlines and carriers at the airport] but of course we're in the market and always talking to airlines and when we can talk about any further developments on that front we will do."

Johnny Rayner Speaks To Heart