SOUTHEND Airport has recorded a 300 per cent increase in passenger numbers.

Stobart Group, which purchased the airport in 2008, reported the impressive jump in passenger numbers on its Flybe routes.

The increase comes after Stobart Air introduced the first of its new fleet of long-distance Embraer E195 jet aircraft to Flybe’s expanded route network, which includes Lyon, Milan, Budapest and Prague.

The first jet flights on the new routes began in May from the airport. Since then, almost 163,000 seats have been sold.

In April, prior to the introduction of the jet fleet, Flybe passenger numbers at the airport were more than 8,700. Following its introduction, passenger numbers rose to more than 35,000.

August was a particularly strong month in terms of passenger numbers, with some routes achieving more than a 90 per cent take up and overall in excess of 75 per cent on new jet-operated routes.

The strong numbers follow Stobart Air’s recent announcement of three Flybe routes from Southend Airport, commencing on October 29 to Dublin, Manchester and Glasgow. These new routes will bring the total number of Flybe routes from the airport to 17.

The Dublin - London Southend route will be operated by a new Embraer E195 jet, with flights up to three times daily. Flights to Manchester from Southend will operate with the same frequency; flights to Glasgow will operate up to twice daily.

Graeme Buchanan, managing director of Stobart Air, said: “August’s strong record passenger numbers are a testament not only to Stobart Air’s commitment to service excellence, but to the immediate success of our three-year investment strategy.

“The company’s purchase of a fleet of Embraer jets was a sound move that is already paying dividends.

“Passengers choose Flybe and other Stobart Air services because they value convenience, affordability, and our comprehensive network of European destinations. This bears out in the numbers. We are on track to carry two million passengers in 2017, a 50 percent increase in passenger numbers over the past five years.”