FLIGHT times for jet-setters heading on holiday from Southend Airport could be cut as EasyJet becomes the first airline to use new satellite technology.

The budget airline, which runs popular flights from Southend Airport, is using the new system to optimise flights, reduce fuel, and ultimately slash flight times.

EasyJet is taking part in the “Iris programme” run by the European Space Agency.

The system digitally connects pilots with air traffic controllers via satellites to enable the creation of more efficient flight routes.

EasyJet is using the Iris system on routes between Southend and Alicante, and between Birmingham and Amsterdam.

It has fitted the Iris system to a single plane, but is planning to deploy the technology on ten more aircraft over the coming months.

Hugh McConnellogue, director of operations and navigation at easyJet, said: “More efficient use of airspace is a critical way we can tackle the industry’s emissions right now.

“Adopting Iris technology on these aircraft will enable easyJet to fly more directly and efficiently, thereby reducing carbon emissions as well as enhancing our on-time performance – which in turn improves our customers’ experiences.

“We are thrilled to see Iris flying with a leading airline such as easyJet, a crucial step on our pathway to reducing emissions and easing congestion.

“We’re thrilled to be paving the way in this area whilst working towards our goal to achieve our net-zero ambitions by 2050.

The European Space Agency said it has funded Iris in support of the Single European Skies, a long-running initiative aimed at improving airspace management.

Javier Benedicto, the agency’s acting director of connectivity and secure communications said: “These first Iris commercial flights put Europe firmly at the forefront of the digitalisation and modernisation of air traffic management.”