SOUTHEND Airport’s “total dependence” on easyJet and slow pandemic recovery could spook potential buyers, an aviation expert has claimed.

Parent company Esken last week confirmed the process to find the "right" buyer for the airport had already begun – with a sale said to be in the “interests of all stakeholders”.

Airport bosses are confident a sale will “benefit airline partners, customers and the region.”

But aviation industry expert Rhys Jones has warned potential buyers may baulk at the airport’s reliance on easyJet – after Ryanair and Wizz Air quit the airport –  for passenger flights.

“At the moment, the airport is offering just four routes, all easyJet, which leaves it totally dependent on that company which is a risk,” Mr Jones, of Head for Points, said.

Over the last 12 months, airport bosses have moved to diversify the airport’s income, building up its cargo operations and hosting television and film crews.

“Clearly Southend is trying its hardest to attract new revenue streams, routes, and airliners but that is at odds with the overall market which is experiencing a capacity crunch,” Mr Jones added.

“There just aren’t enough aircraft or staff at the moment. So, if it becomes the case that easyJet believes it can more profitably use those resources at an airport then it may do that.”

While last summer UK airports recovered on average to about 80 per cent of their pre-pandemic numbers, Southend clocked up just five per cent of summer 2019’s passengers.

Mr Jones believes there is a chance a buyer could see those figures as an opportunity to “buy low and build up” but, pointing to the collapse of Flybe and the closure of Doncaster Sheffield Airport, he added investors had become “more realistic and prudent”.

Smon Murdoch ,68, a retired Royal Mail Postal Worker who has been who has been an aircraft spotter at Southend for most of his life, says he is “not surprised” it has been put up for sale.

“It must cost thousands to keep it open 24 hours a day seven days a week with no scheduled passenger flights only general aviation business jets, light aircraft and two cargo flights a week.

“Passenger numbers did decrease by 90 per cent in 2021-2022, a tremendous loss of revenue to all the ESKEN stake holders, so an understandable decision in their group restructuring".