AN AIRLINE has been scrapping flights between Southend and the Mediterranean less than a year after the service was introduced.

Air Malta have been cancelling flights from Southend to Cagliari and Catania, in Italy, because not enough people have been booking them.

The airline only introduced the routes, along with one to Malta, in February last year.

But as a result of dwindling numbers over the winter season, the airline has made “seasonal capacity trimmings” by diverting Southend flights to Gatwick Airport.

Gary Homer, of North Road, Southend, was due to fly to Malta in March but has been forced to cancel.

The 59-year-old said: “I had flights booked with Air Malta from Southend to Cagliari Sardinia on Wednesday March 13 have received an email changing my flights now to and from Gatwick.

“I have flights booked with Air Malta, in May, to Catania Sicily and when I asked Air Malta about these flights, they said they could not tell me if these flights would go from Southend as it was too far in advance to say but they would only go if more people book.

“We’ve ended up having to cancel the trip, as if we were to go from Gatwick it adds considerable journey time and cost to get there and back.

“Air Malta did thankfully offer a refund, but negotiating with our hotel was much trickier.”

Mr Homer added: “My concern is people will try to book flights from Southend but be forced to change it or cancel if there isn’t enough people.”

An Air Malta spokesman said: “Air Malta offers services twice daily from Malta to London Heathrow and daily from Malta to Gatwick. The Malta - London Southend routes remain unchanged.

“Air Malta has affected some seasonal capacity trimmings on the Cataina/Cagliari to London Southend routes, diverting them to London Gatwick.

“Affected customers were contacted and offered alternatives. Such trimmings are carried out by airlines to optimise seat capacity on routes in line with demand.”

A Southend Airport spokesman said: “Air Malta, like all airlines are always optimising services for seasonal demand. We saw very strong volumes through 2018 and anticipate that demand for eastern Mediterranean destinations like Malta will remain high in 2019.”