THE new owners of Southend Airport have revealed lofty ambitions to expand its terminal and hit the huge milestone of 10million passengers a year.

The Carlyle Group took control of the airport on May 16 and president and chief executive officer of CAG Holdings, the group's US based investment arm for airport infrastructure, Amit Rikhy, has revealed the firm’s vision for the future.

Following a new deal securing an easyJet base to return to the airport, he is hopeful of securing new routes, expanding the airport, and increasing passenger numbers from 3.5million a year to a whopping 10million.

Speaking at the London Aviation Symposium, Mr Rikhy said Southend’s location is a huge benefit as the only “London airport” that has capacity to expand in size.

He said: “Why did we invest in Southend? Access to London.

“This airport is the only airport in the London market that has capacity. The large airports in London are running out of capacity; they don’t have slots.”

The airport has recently announced new flight destinations for 2025 thanks to the return of the easyJet base, which will allow flights to Pisa, Dalaman, Gran Canaria and three more destinations. easyJet already operates routes to Amsterdam, Geneva, Faro, Palma de Mallorca, Malaga and Paris Charles de Gaulle and has flown over seven million customers from London Southend since operations began in 2012.

Mr Rikhy admitted the biggest issue with the airport was a lack of familiarity with the airport’s name among the public, although he insisted “the situation is getting better”.

Lisa Clarkson, who lives in Southend and regularly uses Southend Airport, welcomed the news and backed plans to expand the terminal and potentially offer even more flights.

She said: “I think it would be an amazing idea to expand the terminal.

“I live at the end of the runway and the more airlines that use it the better. More jobs too is great news. I’d love to work there and to go on holiday from there with more choices of destinations.”

Hays Travel Southend manager, Sarah Martin, welcomes the ambition and revealed she now has customers come into the travel agent who will “only fly from Southend.”

She said: “Some people come to us and only want to fly from Southend, not from Gatwick or from Stansted.

“People come to us, say they only want Southend and say, ‘where can I go’, if they can expand that just gives more opportunity.

“If someone whose been to Majorca and Portugal hoping for somewhere new, somewhere more local to them then more routes means more people taking more holidays.

“It helps the economy and the people of Southend.

“Them having more frequent flights at more reasonable times with the opportunity for other destinations is development the airport needs, what people want and need.”