Longer runway for Southend will mean more holiday flights for locals
Southend Airport has won planning consent to make its runway large enough to be used by aircraft with up to 160 seats. The extension will mean that the Essex airport will be able to offer flights to holiday destinations so local people will be saved the journey to one of London's busier airports.
Currently passengers can only fly from Southend to Jersey on weekly flights operated during the summer by Flybe. Private jets, air charter companies and helicopters also use the airport.
The extension, which will start this summer, should be completed in time for the Olympic Games in 2012, enabling the airport to be used as a gateway by visitors and competitors. Trains from Southend will take about 40 minutes to reach the main Olympics park at Stratford in East London.
The airport's management said: "These proposals aim to deliver the significant improvements required to create a fully functional regional airport by 2012 providing the opportunity for local people from Southend, Rochford and surronding areas to fly to a range of holiday and business destinations across Europe."
Southend Airport's owners, haulage firm Eddie Stobart, aim to handle two million passengers a year by 2020, making it an alternative to London City. It is expected to attract low-cost airlines, like Ryanair.
Work has already started on a new railway station and control tower, which are due to open in summer 2010 and spring 2011. The 300-metre runway extension will begin shortly with completion due to coincide with completion of a new passenger terminal in 2011.