THE last of Flybe’s six new European flights from Southend Airport began this morning.

The first flight to Maastricht took off from Southend at 8.10am and completes the successful role out of Flybe’s ten-year franchise with Stobart Air.

It is hoped the route, which will see six return flights to the Dutch destination, will carry 25,000 passengers in its first year, reaching a total of 80,000 by the end of year three.

Flybe chief commercial officer, Simon Fagan, arrived in Southend on the first flight from Maastricht.

He said: "Maastricht is a very popular tourist destination in the Netherlands due to its history which is illustrated in wonderful architecture around the city.

“The city also play host to a number of notable festivals of every variety throughout the year. From the Amstel Gold Cycling Race starts in the city every April and a world class jazz festival in the autumn.

“There is enormous potential for this route as we are providing the people of Maastricht and surrounding region convenient access to London.”

Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, launched new routes to northern European destinations Groningen, Munster Osnabruck and Rennes last month, with flights to Caen and Antwerp starting in early July.

Maastricht is the last of their six new routes which are operated by Stobart Air, the aviation arm of airport owners the Stobart Group.

Airport managing director Roger Clements said: “I am delighted to witness the sixth Flybe route to be launched for London Southend Airport in the past five weeks.

“Launching this new route to Maastricht signifies the continued progress that the airport is making in expanding its services into Europe.

“These six new routes will enable more passengers from continental Europe to choose London Southend as their airport of choice to access central London.”