London Southend Airport (SEN) is looking at restarting direct flights to Jersey after dropping the route in 2020. The airport previously operated up to 12 weekly flights to the Channel Islands.

According to Southend Airport CEO John Upton, the airport is in "detailed discussions" with several airlines on potential routes, including a return to Jersey Airport (JER). This would help it recoup the more than 77,500 passengers who previously flew from the east London area to Jersey and presently lack service.

London Southend Airport sign
Photo: Markus Mainka I Shutterstock

Business Development Director at Southend Airport, Nigel Mayes, commented,

"There is a clear, unclaimed opportunity in the east London market for an additional service to Jersey. London’s aviation capacity is reaching a cliff edge, but London Southend has immediately available capacity and real estate, as well as the lowest operating costs. Reclaiming this well-known, successful route between London Southend and the Channel Islands is a clear pathway to profitable growth for airlines."

In 2019, over 1.2 million passengers flew from London to Jersey, with over 12% of these travelers departing from east London airports, namely Stansted Airport (STN), London City (LCY) and Southend Airport. SEN handled over 60,000 of these passengers across 12 weekly easyJet flights to the Channel Islands - the airport served Jersey between 2013 and 2020, even reaching double the passenger figures of Stansted and London Heathrow (LHR) on this route from 2018 to 2019.

easyjet at Southend Airport
Photo: Markus Mainka/Shutterstock

However, by 2022, less than 0.7% of passengers flying London-Jersey departed from an east London or south of England airport, and only around 11,000 are expected to do so over 2023. With a catchment of over 8.2 million people, Southend Airport chiefs feel there is an "obvious gap" to fill and invite airlines to discuss opportunities.

Southend upbeat about recovery

Southend Airport was one of the hardest-hit UK airports over the pandemic, handling just 4.4% of its pre-COVID capacity in 2022 following easyJet's decision to jump ship. However, the low-cost carrier has since returned to SEN and will operate four routes this summer - in fact, easyJet has signed a multi-year partnership with Southend Airport, leaving room for plenty of growth in the coming years.

CEO Upton stated,

"We have clear advantages, enabled by a “re-start up” mentality, that I firmly believe will see our growth ambitions realised – we saw more than two million passengers fly through in 2019 and we were very much on the way up pre-pandemic. London Southend Airport presents a future-proof opportunity for airlines to drive up their revenues and recovery pathways over the coming months and years."

London Southend Airport
Photo: Markus Mainka I Shutterstock

An analysis by Simple Flying discovered that the airport has lost 69 destinations within the past ten years. Having steadily grown its capacity in the years leading up to the pandemic - jumping from 1 million in 2017 to 2 million passengers in 2019 - SEN is struggling to get new flights having only managed to lure easyJet back.

Have you flown from London Southend Airport recently? Do you see the airport getting back on track? Let us know in the comments.