Airline operator Ryanair has announced its decision to close its base at London Southend Airport (LSA) from November 1 this year.
The move will come as a blow to airport owner Esken following the departure of easyJet last year, which left Ryanair as the sole remaining commercial carrier. However, the operator remains upbeat and has said that it will now look to partner with other airlines to open new routes, such as flights to Romania and Lithuania by Wizz Air this winter.
David Shearer, executive chairman of Esken, said, “The terms of the deal which had been entered into with Ryanair in 2018 were based on a significantly different set of market and economic parameters to the present day. We are therefore commercially agnostic to this decision and will look to build sustainable and profitable passenger growth for LSA with a range of other carriers as demand recovers into a post pandemic world.
“LSA has a catchment area of circa 8 million people resident within one hour traveling time from the airport, a regular direct train connection to London Liverpool Street station, a cost-efficient base of operation for airlines and an enhanced safe passenger experience for post-Covid-19 travel. The fundamental commercial rationale for LSA remains strong and our partnership announced recently with Carlyle will allow us to capitalize on that opportunity as passenger demand recovers.”
Ryanair currently has two planes operating out of LSA but schedules, load factors and yields have been affected significantly by the uncertain market in aviation resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. Following a review of its network Ryanair has decided to redeploy these aircraft to its other bases to improve its own overall network efficiency.
Esken remains focused on targeting airlines for the recovery of flying in summer 2022 when demand is expected to show a recovery post-Covid-19.
LSA has said that the announcement by Ryanair does not have any impact on the investment into the airport announced with Carlyle Global Infrastructure Fund.