A RESCUE deal for Southend Airport has been completed, and it could see new airlines coming to the airport “very soon”.

The American private equity giant Carlyle has officially taken control of the airport after its takeover bid was completed on Thursday morning.

Carlyle, which also owns part of JFK airport in New York, now owns 82.5 per cent of Southend Airport.

Chief executive John Upton said the takeover is “really good news” for the airport.

“They were previously a lender of ours but now they’ve moved into being a majority owner,” he said.

“The good news is they have great expertise in the airport space, they’ve obviously got some financial clout, and I’m delighted to say they’re our owner going forward. The future of the airport is very, very secure.”

The completion of the takeover by Carlyle coincides with easyJet’s announcement it is relaunching its base at Southend.

Mr Upton hopes there will be more “exciting developments” to share “very soon”.

Echo: Partners - John Upton, chief executive of Southend Airport, and Ali Gayward, UK country manager at easyJetPartners - John Upton, chief executive of Southend Airport, and Ali Gayward, UK country manager at easyJet (Image: Elliot Deady, Newsquest)

He said: “I don’t think we’ll be having many A380s and 747s but we hope to be as successful as any other airport.

“Carlyle recognise that we have a great opportunity here at London Southend, we’ve got a good management team, and they want to help us thrive and succeed over the coming years.

“We talk to airlines all the time and we know there’s a lot of interest already.”

He hopes the takeover by Carlyle and the return of the easyJet base will see “hundreds of thousands more passengers” fly from Southend next year.

“This cements London Southend as the sixth airport of London,” he added. “We are back.”

“It’s great news in terms of the opportunity for passengers and it means we will be creating new jobs for the local area as well.”

More than 146,000 passengers flew from Southend last year, down from two million before the coronavirus pandemic when the airport was at its peak.

Mr Upton said the pandemic was “tough for this airport” but hopes Carlyle and easyJet’s involvement with help Southend Airport “thrive and grow over the coming years”.