MORE flights to France are being offered from Southend Airport after a surge in popularity.

Flybe is making available an extra 2,500 seasonal seats on their routes to Northern France as it moves to offering flights six days a week.

Until August 31, Flybe will operate ten additional flights on its Rennes route and 18 extra journeys on their Caen- Normandy timetable.

The extra capacity will mean flights to Caen run six days a week rather than just four, with Wednesday now the only day you cannot fly.

Flybe bought a ten-year franchise from Stobart Air, the aviation wing of airport owners the Stobart Group, and launched six new routes to continental Europe, including the two to France, earlier this summer.

Stobart Air chief commercial officer, Simon Fagan, said: “We are delighted with the popularity of our new routes and to announce the addition of seasonal flights from Southend to Caen-Normandy and Rennes.

“The response from our passengers has been very positive and the demand on those routes has grown beyond our expectations.

We have already surpassed 30,000 passengers booked to fly on our network from Southend to Europe and, as a result, we are adding additional seasonal flights to meet demand for the remainder of the summer.

“With the addition of seasonal flights on this service, we are well on course to reach our target of flying 18,000 and 50,000 passengers in one year to Caen- Normandy and Rennes respectively.”

The six new routes took Southend Airport’s total number of destinations to 21, with flights to Bern, Switzerland, set to begin in October with SkyWork Airlines.

The Stobart Group has invested more than £120million in Southend Airport since acquiring it in 2008.

Roger Clements, managing director of Southend Airport said: “This is very welcome news for Southend Airport which is further testament to the popularity of the airport for business and leisure travellers alike.”

Travel agency boss welcomes the additions

ONE Westcliff travel agent is surprised to see the extra flights being put on, but welcomes the progress.

Chris Heritage, of Hermes Travel, an independent travel agent in London Road, Westcliff, said they book more holiday flights for easyJet destinations.

Flybe’s destinations across Europe include their two French flights, as well as Antwerp, Maastricht, Munster- Osnabruck and Groningen, with easyJet flying to popular holiday destinations such as Malaga, Ibiza, Alicante and Barcelona.

Mr Heritage said: “I can only imagine they have been more popular than first expected.

“People going to northern France normally pack up the car and drive over, but it is encouraging to see the flights are full and they need to increase capacity.

“They were set up with later flights back to France and early ones to Southend, as better for business passengers or tourists from France coming here.

“Mallorca and a lot of the easyJet destinations are popular for holidays. The Flybe ones were a little more quirky.”