Ryanair is to establish a new UK base at Southend airport from next summer.
Three aircraft will initially be based at the Essex airport serving 13 routes to eight European countries, including six new destinations.
The network will include Alicante, Barcelona Reus, Bilbao, Brest, Corfu, Cluj, Dublin, Faro, Kosice,Malaga, Milan Bergamo, Palma and Venice.
The five-year agreement, extendable to ten, represents a $300 million investment by the budget carrier in the new routes creating 750 on-site jobs a year.
The deal will see Southend airport handle at least one million additional passengers in the first year as Ryanair operates more than 55 weekly flights and more than five million in the first five years.
Ryanair chief commercial officer David O’Brien said: “We are pleased to add London Southend airport to our UK base network.
“Ryanair guests travelling to and from London and the Essex area can now enjoy low fares on a choice of 13 routes through London Southend’s exceptionally passenger friendly terminal.
“Southend’s train station will deliver direct services from the terminal to London Liverpool St and also the new Crossrail service opening in 2019, making the airport even more accessible from all parts of London.”
Warwick Brady, chief executive of airport owner Stobart Group, added: “Passengers are increasingly turning to London Southend airport amid the capacity crisis found elsewhere in the capital, where holidaymakers and business travellers face frustration from overcrowded airports, impacting on customer service.
“In contrast, London Southend airport offers an excellent, efficient passenger experience, and we are delighted that this is becoming increasingly recognised, demonstrated by the tremendous momentum within our aviation division.”
The former easyJet executive said: “We have a clear and focused strategy to grow our airport in order to welcome five million passengers a year by 2022.
“This long-term partnership agreement with a leading airline such as Ryanair will help us achieve that aim.
“Since joining Stobart Group over 12 months ago I have been working closely alongside the team at London Southend airport to secure a major airline that will allow us to deliver on our growth targets.
“This agreement demonstrates that we now have the right team, skill set and strategy in place to deliver on our stated ambitions.”
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