AIR passengers are choosing to fly to and from Southend’s revamped airport rather than Stansted, new figures suggest.

Statistics published by the Civil Aviation Authority show 41,600 people flew via the airport during the first month of easyJet flights.

Passenger numbers for Stansted fell by more than 21,300 for the same destinations in April.

Alastair Welch, Southend Airport’s managing director, welcomed the figures, saying they meant about seven seats in ten on its flights had been filled.

He added: “Overall, we are very pleased with the number of passengers we have seen and the standards of customer service we have delivered in the first full month of easyJet operations.”

The no-frills airline began flights from Southend to Barcelona, Belfast and Amsterdam on April 2, taking its place on the departure boards alongside existing Aer Arann fights to Waterford, in Southern Ireland. Two days later, easyJet flights to Alicante and Faro were added.

Because the Southend and Stansted operations are so different, direct comparisons are impossible, but the first month’s figures seem to suggest Southend has taken a large bite out of Stansted’s flights to the same destinations.

Over the month, more than 9,700 people flew between Southend and Amsterdam, the most popular destination.

In contrast, the numbers flying between the Dutch airport and Stansted reduced by more than 4,600, compared to the same period last year.

It was a similar story for flights to the Iberian sun-traps of Alicante and Faro.

Only Barcelona flights from Stansted saw an increase, but Southend had its fair share of that business, too.

More than four out of five seats on the twice-daily flights from Southend to the Spanish city were filled during April.

Paul Simmons, easyJet’s UK director, had already said he was happy with the initial demand for flights from Southend Airport.

Traffic through all British airports usually increases in the summer and Mr Simmons said: “We have seen some good signs so far.

“Summer is always a busy period for us and I am confident Southend will do well.”