CityJet, the Dublin-based airline that flies out of London City Airport, has agreed a deal with Southend to launch a network of flights to 18 destinations.

Southend Airport’s owner, the Stobart Group, has reported that the annual number of passengers has fallen back below half a million in the year to August 31 although earnings and revenue increased.

The deal, which could see four CityJet planes operate out of Essex, is likely to double the number of new passengers, with 600,000 more flying out from the coastal hub.

CityJet

The Dublin-based airline currently operates to seven destinations from London City Airport and only last week executive chairman Pat Byrne expressed concern about the impact of hard Brexit on the airline’s UK operations.

The link-up is only the first of many, says Stobart Aviation, with the target of 2.5million by 2018.

The company said: “The UK’s decision to leave the European Union has had a short-term impact on business development, with some airlines delaying further investment in their UK operations.

“However, the group remains confident that it has the relationships in place to deliver the anticipated growth in passenger volumes, as evidenced by easyJet’s growth and the new arrangement with CityJet .

“We continue to work with our existing and new operators to grow passenger numbers by offering further destinations through London Southend airport .”

Stobart Group chief executive Andrew Tinkler said: “This arrangement will open up around 18 new destinations, giving our customers more choice.”

Heathrow expansion

The Southend deal comes just days after the Government chose Heathrow over Gatwick in the race to create more air capacity in the UK .

The CEO of London City Airport welcomed the decision to build a third runway at Heathrow.

Declan Collier said the move, which has prompted the resignation of MP Zac Goldsmith, was “good news for business, good news for tourism and good news for Britain”.

He said: “A new runway in the South East will create much needed capacity, helping secure the UK’s position as a global hub.

“Approving development at London City Airport earlier this year showed the Government’s readiness to act in the best interests of the British economy as it will generate more economic activity and create more jobs at the airport.”