THE RETURN of EasyJet is “the best news to come out of the pandemic”, a neighbouring resident has said.

Kimberley O’Connell, from Eastwood, has joined a whole host of Echo readers in welcoming the huge announcement, as EasyJet powered up their engines ready to begin flying once again from Southend Airport yesterday morning.

The 45-year-old mum, who lives on Western Approaches, believes the airline’s return will not only help the local economy, but will also keep nearby Southend hotels and B&B’s afloat with a whole host of people patiently itching to get away.

She said: “I think this is brilliant news, probably the best to come out of the pandemic.

“The airport isn’t that far from myself, as far as I can tell us residents think it is fabulous. We know lots could have lost jobs or been furloughed during the pandemic who will be eager to get back and it’s great for our nearby hotels and B&B’s too. I think this is a sign the economy is doing slightly better than we thought which is promising.

“People are definitely pleased and it’s good they want to fly if it won’t contribute to a second wave or another outbreak – they’re desperate to get away after being on lockdown.

“A lot of youngsters are ready to get back on holiday and even some in their 60s and 70s who have places abroad are keen, even though they may be a bit worried. Maybe staggered boarding could be the way forward.

“I myself am personally hanging back, but my husband is raving to go. We’re just going to hold on and see what happens first.”

READ MORE: South Essex MPs’ fury over elected mayor plan

READ MORE: Southend cannabis user claimed to be in Cornwall

It comes after Stobart announced their sale of the company’s rail division Stobart Rail Limited, which was sold on for £1,000 to Bavaria Industries Group AG in a bid to focus on air and give the airport a well-needed boost.

Goals for the airport also include matching the likes of Luton Airport, with bosses hoping to see around 20 million passengers fly per year in the long term.

Jon Fuller, co-ordinator from the South East Essex Friends of the Earth group, said: “This is terrible news. I think a lot of residents have been enjoying their gardens, the peace and quite and will be sad this is coming to an end.

“It’s crazy to think that jumping back on planes when we have global warming and the arctic going up in flames - we have got to take this seriously and act now. Either end flights or make it carbon neutral.”

Kevin Robinson, cabinet member for business, culture and tourism, said: “We are doing as much as we can at the council to support the airport, and it’s a good sign they’re starting up flights again.

“I think once summer is over that the airlines may review things and will look at the situation fresh then. I know all involved are doing the best they can given the hard times we are in.”