SOUTHEND Airport is an “enticing prospect” for potential new owners with its “best days ahead,” a senior councillor has said.

Esken, previously known as the Stobart Group, has out Southend airport up for sale 15 years after purchasing it from Southend council for £21 million.

Since taking over in 2008, the firm has spent £160 million on redeveloping the site with a new terminal, railway station, control tower and runway extension.

Now the firm, focused on aviation and renewables, is looking to sell Southend Airport.

Echo: Southend AirportSouthend Airport (Image: Simon Murdoch)

Deputy council leader Martin Terry believes the airport presents a “fantastic opportunity” for a new buyer.

“I am optimistic about its future because it is a fantastic product,” he said.

“With the station it’s actually easier to get into London from Southend than it is Gatwick and Luton.

“Southend Airport can offer an alternative to airlines when airports like Stansted, Gatwick and Heathrow are struggling for runway capacity, and with these airports close to 90 per cent pre-pandemic levels as passengers return in great numbers, Southend is set to kick back into gear.

“I believe the airport has its best days ahead of it yet.”

The independent Thorpe councillor, responsible for public protection, says Esken has “about 85 years left” on the lease it signed with the council.

In July 2021, Esken sold a 30 per cent stake in the airport to global investment firm Carlyle for £125m.

The transaction provided funding of £100 million for Esken, with £20 million ring-fenced to support the airport for three years.

“I don’t envisage that deal will crate any issues for a sale,” Mr Terry said.

“Esken has proved it wants the best for the airport, and is committed to finding the right buyer.”

In June 2021, Esken revealed a £15 million sale of Carlisle Lake District Airport had fallen through.

The airport remains under its ownership.

Councillor Paul Collins, responsible for asset management and inward investment, said: “Southend Airport is a huge asset to our great city and of major importance to our local economy, so while we cannot comment on the sale, we of course want to see a thriving and prosperous airport.”