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Ryanair to grow London network with Southend base

Ryanair is to open a base at London Southend in April 2019, stationing three aircraft at the airport.

The Irish-headquartered budget carrier – which already operates from London's Stansted, Luton and Gatwick airports – says it will launch 13 routes from Southend, which is located around 60km from the UK capital.

Five of the destinations are in Spain: Alicante, Bilbao, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca and Reus. Two are Italian – Bergamo and Venice – and the other six spread across six countries: Brest in France, Corfu in Greece, Cluj in Romania, Irish capital Dublin, Faro in Portugal, and Kosice in Slovakia.

Frequency is set at five flights per week for Alicante, Faro and Malaga; four for Bergamo, Bilbao, Palma and Venice; three for Cluj and Kosice; and two for the others. The Dublin service will be twice-daily.

The Irish carrier already operates from the London airports of Stansted, Luton and Gatwick. FlightGlobal schedules data shows that Ryanair does not currently serve five of the new Southend routes - Bilbao, Brest, Cluj, Kosice, Venice - from its other London airports.

Ryanair's chief commercial officer David O'Brien highlights the advantages to Southend airport of the Crossrail service scheduled to begin next year. He says the new railway will make the airport "even more accessible from all parts of London".

Warwick Brady, chief executive of Southend's operator Stobart Group, expects Ryanair's arrival to help the airport reach its goal of five million passengers per annum by 2022.

FlightGlobal schedules data shows that Ryanair will compete directly with EasyJet on the Alicante, Faro, Malaga and Palma routes. The UK low-cost carrier links Southend with Barcelona's main airport; Reus is a 96km drive to the west.

Another UK airline, Flybe, flies between Dublin and Southend. The regional operator also links Southend to Milan's main airport, Malpensa; Bergamo is about 50km away.

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