AIRPORT bosses are piling the pressure on easyJet with “constant talks” to convince the airline to return after Ryanair’s exit, a councillor has revealed.

Prittlewell councillors Kevin Buck and Meg Davidson met with CEO Glyn Jones on Wednesday in the wake of Ryanair announcing it would close its base on November 1.

easyJet shut its base at the airport last year due to the impact of the Covid-19.

However, Mr Buck said the talks were “positive” and that the airport is financially secure until passenger levels increase.

He said: “They confirmed that they will be able to weather the storm for the next 12 to 18 months where they are hoping to see a return to near normal passenger numbers.

“They are looking at 2023 to 2024 to return to pre-Covid levels.

“But they have the cash to weather the storm. The longer term viability is not in question at this stage.

“What’s the challenge to them is lack of passengers.

“But they’re still confident about new opportunities and say there are regular discussions about easyJet about some form or return to the airport.


“Once people start using them again the carriers will be back.”

In July, Esken, which owns the airport, agreed a loan with US private equity firm Carlyle. The firm will lend £120 million to Esken, which can be converted into a 30 per cent stake in the airport.

Roughly £20 million of this cash has been ring-fenced for Southend Airport over three years, securing the airport’s short-term future.

Councillors described Ryanair’s exit as a “golden opportunity” for easyJet.

In the airport’s annual report, bosses said they knew the following year would be challenged but remained confident in the future, and that other low-cost airlines and network carriers could relocate traffic and seek available runway slots.

Mr Buck added: “Southend is a short haul European destination for weekends, and the restrictions and controls really put many people off.

“You go through all that for a two to three hour flight to get to Spain or for a weekend of golf, and you think you can just go to Devon for a weekend.

“I can only speak for them [the airport] in the meeting, they were all talking very positively.

“They were really optimistic, they see the short haul quicker returning than the long haul.”