The owner of Southend airport is looking towards next summer to attract new budget airlines after the withdrawal of easyJet.
Stobart Group said income at the Essex airport was being helped by global logistics operations and the resumption of passenger flights in June in spite of the “challenging backdrop” for the aviation industry.
“While passenger activity has been modest in the initial months since reopening, London Southend airport remains well positioned to benefit from the expected recovery in the short-haul leisure travel market as and when restrictions ease,” the company said in a trading update.
“The immediate priorities for the airport are to continue managing costs to reflect current demand and maintaining flexibility to respond quickly to any change in activity levels.
“Looking ahead, the airport remains confident in its relationships with its existing carriers and is in positive discussions in relation to the post-winter schedule which starts in April 2021.
“It is also actively engaging with a range of other low-cost carrier airlines regarding their interest in established proven routes that can be operated from next year at a low cost of operation.”
Stobart, which raised £100 million in June, said it had £119 million of cash and undrawn bank facilities available at August 31.
Stobart Air, which operates Aer Lingus regional routes, is operating “below the scenarios set out at the time of the capital raise due to the continued quarantine arrangements in Ireland, with limited flights operating”.
The company added: “As with other divisions in the group, Stobart Air is carefully managing its cost base and is working with its various stakeholders to minimise cash burn while maintaining its ability to respond to changes in restrictions.
“The group is engaging actively with a number of parties interested in acquiring its stake and with Aer Lingus to enter into a new commercial arrangement beyond December 2022 as part of this process.”
Chief executive Warwick Brady said: “The group is executing the strategy it set out at the time of the capital raise and is employing strict financial discipline to safeguard both the operational capability and the value of its core assets to ensure it will be positioned to respond to a recovery in demand.”
He added: “We are delivering a cost-effective passenger-focused experience at London Southend airport.”
Opportunities to dispose of remaining non-core assets are being evaluated.
Stobart is due to publish financial results for the six months to August on November 4.
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