By Jose Antonio Payet
Ryanair To Close London Southend Base
European low-cost carrier Ryanair announced it will be closing its base at Southend airport near London, where it currently bases two aircraft. The Irish born carrier will open a base in Newcastle, on the other hand, taking off in 2022.
As of November 1st, Ryanair will no longer fly from Southend Airport, which is operated by Esken group.
In a statement, David Shearer, Esken Executive Chairman, said, “Ryanair has stated its intention to close its base at London Southend Airport with effect from the start of the winter season this year. As a result, Ryanair will cease operations based from London Southend Airport from 1 November 2021”.
“Ryanair signed a five-year agreement to base three aircraft at London Southend Airport in 2018 and commenced operations 1st April 2019,” he commented. “The airline has had two aircraft in operation since 2020, following a reduction driven by the pandemic. However, Ryanair’s performance at London Southend Airport has been further affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and has now resulted in this decision,” he added.
“The terms of the deal which had been entered into with Ryanair in 2018 were based on a significantly different set of market and economic parameters to the present day. We are therefore commercially agnostic to this decision and will look to build sustainable and profitable passenger growth for LSA with a range of other carriers as demand recovers into a post pandemic world”, the executive concluded.
Shearer showed resiliency towards the future of the airport, commenting that Southend airport has a catchment area of close to 8 million people residing within one hour from the airport by car or train. Shearer reassures the operator will be able to attract new airlines as demand continues to recover from COVID-19.
The pandemic has taken a hard hit on Southend, with 2020 passengers levels down by three times compared to 2019 numbers. Last year, EasyJet also pulled out of Southend amid the pandemic, from where it flew to up to 21 destinations. Ryanair also bases aircraft out of London airports at Stansted, Luton and Gatwick, offering multiple options for travel for those in the greater London area.
On the other hand, Ryanair will be opening a base in Newcastle in the north of England, basing two aircraft starting in March 2022. From there, the low cost carrier plans to operate a dozen of destinations during summer 2022 to holiday destinations around Europe, including Ibiza, Milan, Gran Canaria and Krakow. The move will also create 60 jobs and boost the surrounding economy.
Ryanair CEO Eddie Wilson announced the base announcement saying, “We are delighted to launch a new UK base, which represents a $200m investment at Newcastle. This development will create direct jobs and offer our UK customers a host of European hotspots to choose from next summer,”.
Nick Jones, Newcastle Airport CEO, commemorated, “This is very significant news for both the airport and the region. Ryanair’s investment is a sign of growing confidence and will provide the North East public with a great selection of new destinations and extra weekly frequencies,”
“This will create new jobs for pilots, cabin crew and engineering alongside support services, and will generate economic value for the wider area.. We are delighted with the news and look forward to welcoming Ryanair, their crew and staff to their new home at Newcastle International Airport in the near future”, Jones added.