Budget airline EasyJet is to fly to popular tourist destinations from London Southend Airport.
The budget airline has signed a 10-year partnership with the Stobart Group-owned airport, bringing with it three A319 aircraft, 150 employees and a projected 800,000 passengers in its first year.
The head of the airport described the move as “transformational" for the Thames Gateway area, made possible by strong support from the local community.
According to EasyJet, the airport offers flights without the ‘stress of some of the larger airports’, including the nearby Stansted – a stronghold of its competitor Ryanair - adding it offers easy access into east London, home to Excel London the London Eastside conference and exhibition venues.
Easyjet is encouraging passengers to ditch rivals British Airways and Ryanair with the announcement, as both competitors fly the same routes including Faro and Barcelona.
The airline will run 70 flights a week to 10 different destinations.
EasyJet customer and revenue director, Catherine Lynn, said the new airport would bring the benefits of a "small regional airport" to passengers.