SOUTHEND Airport’s own airline could provide new routes to drive up passenger numbers.

A statement made by the Stobart Group said it was “considering opportunities” in developing further routes from Southend with its Dublin-based airline Stobart Air, which owns the airport.

According to the report, the airline increased its passenger numbers by almost 17 per cent in the three months to May 31, while the airport itself is still falling short of its 2.5million annual passenger target for 2018 – serving only 900,000 passengers in the 12 months to February 29.

However, it remains in ongoing talks with a number of airlines interested in flying from Southend.

The report noted: “London Southend Airport’s management team have advanced talks with a number of low-cost carriers and full service operators, who want to take advantage of the airport’s access to London capacity at peak times, to deliver this growth.

“Our airline investment, Stobart Air, carried 353,000 passengers in the three months to 31 May 2016, an increase of nearly 17 per cent, and we are considering opportunities with the airline to develop sustainable routes to and from London Southend Airport.”