London Southend Airport
|London Southend Airport|
|IATA: SEN – ICAO: EGMC|
|Operator||London Southend Airport Company Ltd.|
and east London areas
|Elevation AMSL||55 ft / 17 m|
During the 1960s, Southend was London's third-busiest airport. It remained London's third-busiest airport in terms of passengers handled until the end of the 1970s, when the role of "London's third airport" passed to Stansted. Following its purchase by Stobart Group in 2008, a development programme provided a new terminal and control tower, extended runway, and connection to central London via the regular rail service running between Southend Airport Station and Liverpool Street Station.
EasyJet began operating services by opening a base at Southend in April 2012  and Irish carrier Aer Lingus Regional began regular flights to Dublin in May, resulting in a rapid increase in airport passenger numbers to 617,027 during 2012; 721,661 passengers used the airport in 12 months following the start of these services, with 969,912 in 2013, and 1,102,358 in 2014. The airport operator hopes to increase passenger numbers to two million per year by 2020.
- 1 Overview
- 2 History
- 3 Airlines and destinations
- 4 Statistics
- 5 Incidents
- 6 Film appearances
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 Citations
- 10 External links
The airport is located between Rochford and Southend town centres, 1.5 NM (2.8 km; 1.7 mi) north of Southend, in the county of Essex, 36 miles (58 km) to the east of central London. It has a single 1,856 metres (6,089 ft) long asphalt runway on a south-west/north-east axis and is capable of handling aircraft of up to Boeing 757 size. The airport is not capable of handling wide-body aircraft.
The current terminal was completed in February 2012, and hosts two cafés, a bar, duty-free shopping, a W H Smith newsagent, ATMs (dispensing euros and sterling), a Moneycorp bureau de change, taxi hire, car hire from Europcar and Hertz, and an airport lounge. The terminal has since been extended by 90 metres, almost tripling the facility in size.
The former terminal now houses facilities for business passengers flying executive aircraft, with lounges and conference rooms, plus flight briefing facilities for pilots and a security checkpoint.
A four-star Holiday Inn hotel adjacent to the airport entrance opened on 1 October 2012; it is owned by the Stobart Group and has the only rooftop restaurant in Essex; it is also open to the public.
The airport is served by buses operated by Arriva Southend from the airport entrance to Southend (7, 8 and 9), Rochford (7 and 8), Ashingdon (7), Hawkwell (8), Hockley (7 and 8), Eastwood (9) and Rayleigh (7, 8 and 9). Routes 7, 8 and 9 are normally operated by modern, low-floor easy-access buses. First Group operates route X30 from the terminal to Chelmsford and Stansted Airport.
A frequent rail service to London Liverpool Street, with a journey time of about 53 minutes, runs via Stratford from Southend Airport railway station located about 200 m (660 ft) from the main terminal.
Southend Airport handles mainly scheduled passenger, charter and business flights, cargo flights, pilot training (in both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters) and recreational flying. The airport is run by London Southend Airport Co Ltd, which employs over 150 people directly. Due to expansion, there were over 500 more people working at the airport in summer 2012 compared with summer 2011.
Southend Airport has a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Ordinary Licence that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction as authorised by the licensee (London Southend Airport Company Limited).
The airport provides RFF Cat 6 between 06:00 – 00:00, RFF Cat 1 between 00:00 – 06:00. Southend Airport has an excellent weather record and is used by airlines as a diversion alternative when adverse weather or incidents close other London airports.
Aircraft ground handling at the airport is provided by the airport-owned Southend Handling, who also assist companies, groups or individuals in chartering aircraft to or from the airport.
Companies located at and around the airport employ over 1,000 skilled workers, providing services such as engineering and maintenance work on airliners, including respraying, refurbishment, upgrades to avionics, manufacture of aircraft seats and the installation of new or hush-kitted engines.
Heavy maintenance services and hangars for aircraft up to Boeing 757 and Airbus A321 size are available. ATC Lasham is the major engineering company at the airport, and can trace its roots to Aviation Traders Engineering Limited (ATEL) – founded by the late Sir Freddie Laker – and Heavylift Engineering. Other companies include ACL Aviation Support (ACLAS), Aero Partners, Aircare Ltd (a subsidiary of Avionicare), Air Livery (aircraft re-finishing), Avionicare, IAVNA (airport visual aids), Inflite Engineering (previously World Aviation Support and BAF Engineering), IPECO/Benson-Lund, Isenburg Engineering and JRB Aviation.
1914: Aviation beginnings
The airfield was established by the Royal Flying Corps during World War I. It was the largest flying ground in Essex, with the greatest number of units. In May 1915 the RNAS took over, until 4 June 1916, when it became RFC Rochford. It was designated as night fighter station and many sorties were flown against Zeppelin airship raiders, including LZ38 on 31 May 1915. In 1920, the station closed and reverted to farmland for a while.
1935: Civil airport opening
However in 1939, the Air Ministry requisitioned the airfield and it was known as RAF Rochford during World War II as a satellite airfield. During World War II, it became a base for fighter squadrons comprising Supermarine Spitfires and Hawker Hurricanes as well as Bristol Blenheims. Many of the 50 pillboxes that were designed to protect the airport from paratroop landings still survive, as does the underground defence control room, which is near to Southend Flying Club. A further 20 or so pillboxes also remain in the surrounding countryside. Canewdon, 2 miles (3 km) north-east of the airport, was the location of one of the World War II Chain Home radar stations. The 360-foot (110 m) high transmitter tower at Canewdon was relocated to the Marconi works at Great Baddow in the 1950s.
1946: Post War
In 1946, the airfield was decommissioned from military use and civil aviation returned in 1947, as did the Southend Municipal Airport name.
Annual passenger traffic rose steadily throughout the 1950s and peaked in 1967 at 692,000. Southend continued to handle more traffic than Stansted until well into the 1970s, making it London's de facto third airport. It took 45 years to surpass the 1967 passenger total, this occurring during 2013.
In 1967 the first steps to establish an aviation museum at the airport were taken, resulting in the official opening 26 May 1972 of the Southend Historic Aircraft Museum on the western boundary of the airport. However by May 1983 it had closed and all exhibits were sold at auction.
Britain's first airliner flight flown by an all-female crew took place from Southend on 31 October 1979 when BAF Herald G-BDFE operated the airline's inaugural scheduled passenger flight from Southend to Düsseldorf under the command of Captain Caroline Frost and First Officer Lesley Hardy.
Since 1986, Southend Airport has been home to Avro Vulcan XL426 (one of three remaining in running condition). It is owned by the Vulcan Restoration Trust, a registered charity, that keeps the systems and engines of XL426 serviceable, allowing it to be occasionally taxied – it is not airworthy.
The first seafront Airshow took place on 26 May 1986, and was the first of 27 successive annual displays, the last being in 2012. The airshow resulted in the temporary basing of many participant aircraft at the airport for the duration of the displays.
Historical airline usage
Freddie Laker's Air Charter Limited operated flights from Southend from 1949. Other Southend-headquartered companies Laker owned included Aviation Traders and Aviation Traders (Engineering). Sold in 1958, they became part of Airwork in January 1959.
BKS[nb 1] commenced airline operations from Southend Airport in October 1951 as BKS Aero Charter[nb 2] with a Douglas DC-3. Further DC-3s were bought in 1952. Flying charters initially, in 1953, it was granted a licence to operate scheduled services between Newcastle, the Isle of Man and Jersey.
East Anglian Flying Services moved to Southend on 5 January 1947, their first scheduled service being a Southend—Rochester feeder service. In 1948, East Anglian operated its first inclusive tour (IT) charter from Southend to Ostend, and by winter 1948 had acquired seven additional aircraft (five de Havilland Dragon Rapides, a Miles Aerovan and an Auster Airspeed Courier). After a year of operating the Southend—Ostend charter run, a scheduled service licence was obtained for the route, as well as for Southend—Jersey. Further scheduled services launched from Southend to Paris and Rotterdam as well as additional stops on some Jersey services at Rochester, Shoreham and Guernsey. During the mid to late 1950s, three de Havilland Doves were introduced, and two Bristol 170s had joined the fleet by late 1957. The name Channel Airways officially replaced East Anglian Flying Services on 29 October 1962, although the Channel Airways name had already been in use for several years and painted on aircraft fuselages. By then, Channel Airways had become one of the UK's five leading independent airlines of the 1960s. The administrative headquarters and main engineering base continued at Southend until the airline ceased all operations at the end of February 1972.
British World Airlines (BWA) was based at Southend, previously they operated as British Air Ferries (BAF), and before that, as British United Air Ferries (BUAF) – formed from the merger of Channel Air Bridge (based at Southend, and famous for operating the Carvair) and Silver City Airways. BAF/BWA owned many Vickers Viscount turboprop airliners, fitted out for passenger and cargo operations. These aircraft, dating from the mid/late 1950s to the early 1960s, were originally owned and operated by British European Airways (BEA), one of the two main predecessors of the present-day British Airways. BWA retired and sold these aircraft in the late 1990s. From the 1970s to the early 1990s, the airline also owned and operated several Handley Page Herald turboprops. In the 1990s, BWA operated many different aircraft types including BAC One-Elevens, British Aerospace 146s, British Aerospace ATPs, Boeing 737-300s and a Boeing 757. The airline ceased operations late in 2001, affected by the downturn caused by the 11 September attacks and bringing to an end an airline with over 50 years association with the airport.
Dan-Air began its life at Southend with a Douglas DC-3, registration G-AMSU, (originally owned by Meredith Air Transport, a small Southend-based ad hoc charter operator formed in 1952), fulfilling a six-month contract to operate a series of charter flights between Southend and West Berlin's Tempelhof Airport. The airline's first commercial operation – an ad hoc charter flight from Southend via Manchester to Shannon – occurred in June 1953. In 1955 Dan-Air moved its base to Blackbushe.
Holland Aero Lines operated a Rotterdam to Southend service with a GAF Nomad aircraft between 4 February 1985 and December 1986. It flew up to three times daily on weekdays, with one flight on Saturday.
Regionair was a small commuter airline based at Southend in the late 1980s and early 1990s that provided services to Rotterdam and Paris using Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante and Jetstream 31 aircraft.
1993: Regional Airports Ltd
In 1993, after the airport had been making losses for many years, Southend Borough Council sold the airport to Regional Airports Ltd (RAL), operator of Biggin Hill Airport. London Southend Airport Co Ltd was formed to operate the airport which was re-branded as "London Southend Airport" with the term "Municipal" dropping from the title. The previous losses were turned into small profits for majority of tenure by RAL.
In 2001, a debate centred on the possible relocation of Grade 1 listed St Laurence and All Saints Church further away from the side of the main runway. The proposal was dropped after the planning application was rejected by Southend Council in 2003, and a compromise scheme was implemented resulting in slightly shorter licensed runway lengths. This change allowed passenger flights to be restarted, however the resulting runway length curtails the potential range and payloads for passenger flights, and the airport has not been greatly utilised by airlines in recent years.
Flightline was an airline formed in 1989 headquartered at Southend, where they also had a maintenance/engineering base for their own and third party aircraft. They mainly operated British Aerospace 146 aircraft on ad-hoc charters, and an Avro RJ100 regional jet with which they operated a regular service between Southend and Cologne from 7 June 2006 to 1 December 2008 on behalf of Ford Motor Company as a corporate shuttle. Flightline went into administration on 3 December 2008.
In January 2008, Regional Airports Ltd put the airport up for sale.
2008: Stobart Group
Following council consultation with the local population, a planning application extending the usable runway length by 300 m (984 ft) to 1,799 m (5,902 ft), and providing upgraded navigational and lighting aids, was submitted to Southend Borough Council 13 October 2009. Planning permission was granted by Southend Borough Council 20 January 2010. Initially subject to an Article 14 Direction, after due consideration by the Government this was withdrawn 19 March 2010, meaning it would not be subject to a Public Inquiry. A Section 106 agreement is required to be entered into between the airport and local councils.
On 1 June 2010, Stobart Group took a £100 million loan from M & G Investments, partly in order to fund the airport construction. In July 2010, an application for a judicial review of the planning application was filed, which was dismissed on 2 February 2011.
A replacement air traffic control tower became operational on 21 March 2011.
EasyJet announced a ten-year agreement with Stobart Group in June 2011, and in April 2012 commenced around 70 flights per week from Southend, using three Airbus A319 aircraft based at the airport, flying to eight European destinations — Alicante, Amsterdam, Belfast, Barcelona, Faro, Ibiza, Majorca and Malaga; Belfast was subsequently dropped in January 2014.
A new on-site rail station opened 18 July 2011, (the official opening by Minister for Transport Theresa Villiers MP was on 21 September 2011), and a new road opened 1 September 2011, replacing Eastwoodbury Lane that lay in the path required for the runway extension.
2012: Expansion of passenger flights
A new terminal was built by Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd during 2011 and opened 28 February 2012 (the official opening was by The Right Honourable Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for Transport on 5 March 2012). The original terminal has been redeveloped for use by private jets, with Stobart Air having invested half a million pounds turning it into an executive business lounge.
The extended runway opened 8 March 2012, with Category I ILS on both ends of the runway.
Easyjet announced further new routes on 26 March 2012; a seasonal winter route to Geneva which commenced 14 December 2012, and to Venice commencing 8 February 2013. Also in March 2012, a three times daily service to Dublin was announced, and commenced 10 May 2012 under the brand of Aer Lingus Regional, offering onward connections from Dublin to New York, Boston, Chicago and Orlando.
On 26 October 2012, EasyJet announced that it was to base a 4th Airbus 319 at Southend with new routes to Berlin and Kraków, these commenced on 17 June 2013. On 6 December 2012 they announced that seasonal flights to Newquay Airport would start, these commenced 20 June 2013, 3 times a week. The Kraków service ended on 13 September 2014.
In November 2012, Thomson Holidays announced they would operate package holidays from Southend to Palma de Mallorca, flying on Saturdays. Operated by the Spanish airline Volotea, the first flight was on 25 May 2013.
Thomas Cook also offers package holidays from the airport, utlilising seats on scheduled EasyJet flights.
On 25 March 2014 Stobart Air announced that it had agreed a 5-year franchise agreement with Flybe which will see two Flybe branded aircraft based at Southend operating five routes to Antwerp, Caen, Groningen, Münster/Osnabrück and Rennes starting in June and July 2014; on 24 April 2014 a sixth route to Maastricht/Aachen was announced, commencing 10 July 2014. On 18 January 2015, the routes to Maastricht and Antwerp were terminated with the Flybe/Stobart franchise operation reduced to one aircraft.
On the 27 June 2014, Sky Work Airlines announced the move of their Bern connection from London City to London Southend, this commenced 26 October 2014. On 26 October 2014 the Dublin flights changed franchise from Aer Lingus to Flybe, whilst maintaining interlining with Aer Lingus and bookable through either airline. However, the Dublin flights were withdrawn from 27 March 2015 due to recent low passenger numbers.
Airlines and destinations
|Adria Airways||Seasonal: Maribor (begins 1 June 2015)|
|easyJet||Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin-Schönefeld, Faro, Málaga, Venice-Marco Polo
Seasonal: Geneva, Ibiza, Jersey, Menorca (begins 26 June 2015), Palma de Mallorca, Tenerife-South
operated by Stobart Air
|Caen, Groningen, Münster/Osnabrück, Rennes|
operated by Volotea
|Seasonal: Palma de Mallorca|
|Rank||Airport||Passengers handled||% Change 2013 / 14|
|1||Netherlands - Amsterdam||200,306||34.1|
|2||Spain - Alicante||119,904||18.9|
|3||Spain - Barcelona||101,071||5.5|
|4||Portugal - Faro||90,757||5.4|
|5||Spain - Malaga||84,053||3.9|
|6||Germany - Berlin||71,263||74.5|
|7||Switzerland - Geneva||61,712||300.7|
|8||Ireland - Dublin||61,599||1.9|
|9||Italy - Venice||53,633||16.2|
|10||Spain - Palma de Mallorca||52,670||14.7|
|Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority |
- On 11 February 1944, Boeing B-17 42-31694 of the USAAF (511th BS) crash-landed and burned out at Southend, after receiving battle damage on a raid on Frankfurt.
- On 11 May 1944, B17G 42-107147 of the USAAF (360BS) made an emergency wheels-up landing with heavy flak damage after a mission to Saarbrücken.
- On 12 July 1957, a Lockheed Constellation of TWA made an emergency landing whilst routeing from Frankfurt to Heathrow, with one engine on fire.
- On 28 July 1959, an East Anglian Flying Services Vickers 614 Viking 1 (registration: G-AHPH) was written off in a landing accident. On approach the aircraft's right-hand main gear indicator showed that the gear was unsafe. An emergency landing was made on the grass parallel to the runway. The right gear collapsed and the aircraft swung to the right, damaging it beyond repair. None of the 39 occupants were injured.
- On 9 October 1960, a Handley Page Hermes of Falcon Airways (registration: G-ALDC) overran the runway on landing, ending up across the Shenfield to Southend railway line. The aircraft was written off but all 76 people on board survived.
- On 3 May 1967, a Vickers Viscount of Channel Airways (registration: G-AVJZ) was written off when a propeller was feathered on take-off. Two people on the ground were killed.
- On 4 May 1968, a Vickers Viscount of Channel Airways (registration: G-APPU) overran the runway having landed at too high a speed. The aircraft was written off.
- On 3 June 1971, a Douglas DC-3 of Moormanair (registration: PH-MOA) returned for an emergency landing with one engine partially failed, shortly after departure to the Netherlands carrying supporters of Ajax Football Club. It overran on landing, colliding with an earth bank at the end of the runway and slightly injuring 2 of the 32 passengers on board.
- On 4 October 1974 at 20:01 local time, the flight engineer of a DAT Douglas DC-6 (registered OO-VGB) decided to retract the nose gear during take-off even though the aircraft had not yet lifted off, which happened due to a communication error with the pilots. The airplane slid along the runway, during which it was damaged beyond repair. 99 passengers had been on board the flight to Antwerp, one of whom was severely injured (another four received minor injuries from evacuating the aircraft). The six crew members remained uninjured.
- On 12 September 1988, an aircraft carrying newspapers made a crash landing one night into Mac’s Garage on the Eastwood Road. It is suspected that the pilot, who took off from Southend Airport was attempting to crash land on the straight road, but failed and so piloted the plane onto the only uninhabited building. The pilot was 33 year old Hugh Forrester Brown from nearby Canewdon.
- On 11 January 1988, a Vickers Viscount of British Air Ferries (registration: G-APIM) was damaged beyond economic repair when it was in a ground collision with a Fairflight Short 330 (registration: G-BHWT). The BAF Viscount was subsequently repaired and donated to Brooklands Museum for preservation.
- A British United Air Ferries Carvair is seen transporting Auric Goldfinger and his car in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger from Southend Airport to Geneva. In the scene, filmed in 1963, Sean Connery as Bond drives his Aston Martin DB5 into Southend Airport (having tracked Goldfinger's Rolls Royce to the airport), and takes it to Switzerland in pursuit of Goldfinger via the Carvair service.
- The airport also appears in the 2001 film Mike Bassett: England Manager. It is shown when the team emerge to joyous crowds upon their arrival from the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
- Expansion of London Southend Airport
- List of airports in the United Kingdom
- British military history
- British military history of World War II
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Media related to London Southend Airport at Wikimedia Commons
- Official website
- Read a detailed historical record about RAF Rochford/London Southend Airport
- RAF Rochford – History