The boss of Southend airport has indicated that more “big plans” are in the pipeline as Air Malta started three new routes yesterday.

Three flights a week will run to Malta, together with twice-weekly services to both Catania in Sicily and Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia.

Air Malta is the third new airline attracted to the Stobart Group-owned airport this year.

An IGAvion service to Châteauroux in the Loire Valley in France started last month while Loganair opens a route to Stobart-owned Carlisle Lake District airport on June 4.

Flybe, operating under a franchise agreement with in-house carrier Stobart Air, and easyJet already cover 34 domestic and European destinations from Southend.

Glyn Jones, CEO of Southend airport owner Stobart Aviation, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Air Malta to London Southend – the UK capital’s best and fastest growing airport.

“With our multi-award winning facilities offering the strategic advantages and capacity that airlines want, fast and frequent train services to London, market-leading record for punctuality and a unique customer service that our passengers love, we look forward to providing an excellent service to passengers wanting to explore Malta, Sicily and Sardinia.

He added “This is just the start, we’ve plenty more big plans for 2018 in the pipeline.”

Air Malta acting CEO Joseph Galea said: “London has always been a major destination for Maltese people, and Malta is a popular attraction for British people, so the connectivity we are now offering between Malta and London – plus Cagliari and Catania – makes it very exciting for us.

“Mostly we fly point to point, but London Southend gives us the opportunity to combine Sardinia and Sicily – it is already doing well, so we are thrilled as it is where we want to go in the future.”