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Ryanair pulls out of London Southend Airport

written by Isabella Richards | August 10, 2021

Boeing 737-800 Ryanair, pictured at Barcelona Airport (BCN) (Source: Australian Aviation archives)

Ryanair has confirmed it will close operations from London Southend Airport in November, leaving the base with one other main operating airline.

Almost exactly a year after its budget competitor easyJet pulled out of the Essex airport, Dublin-based Ryanair announced its operations will halt 1 November this year.

Esken, the owner of London Southend, said the airline signed a five-year agreement to base three aircraft there in 2018, following its official debut in April 2019.

Esken said Ryanair reduced its aircraft to two, from the previous three, due to a “reduction driven by the pandemic” and “affected” performance.

In a statement, Esken executive chairman David Shearer said it was in the process of reviewing the impact this will have on the airport.

“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,” he said.

“We are therefore commercially agnostic to this decision and will look to build sustainable and profitable passenger growth for London Southend Airport with a range of other carriers as demand recovers into a post-pandemic world.”


The budget airline was the airport’s central carrier, creating 750 jobs, alongside easyJet before 2020 and the Hungarian airline Wizz Air.

“The financial impact of Ryanair’s base closure will be mitigated by a reduction in costs directly associated with serving Ryanair’s base and the low level of passengers expected during the winter season,” said the statement.

Ryanair operates over 50 flights a week, through 13 routes to eight different countries including Spain, the Republic of Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Italy – a key European hub from the UK.

London Southend Airport will now be the sole base of Wizz Air, which commenced operations in August 2019.

Its main routes are to the Lithuanian capital Vilnius and Romanian capital Bucharest.

Although Ryanair maintained the majority of the airport’s passenger traffic, in July London Southend entered into a deal to increase its liquidity.

The deal was with a US equity company called Carlyle, which will bring in around £125 million to London Southend.

Although it is a loan, it will potentially be converted into a near 30 per cent stake in the airport and keep the company on its feet during the next travel season.

“The fundamental commercial rationale for LSA remains strong and our partnership announced recently with Carlyle will allow us to capitalise on that opportunity as passenger demand recovers,” Shearer said.


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