Join Regional Airline, a Dutch start-up that will comprise various airline partners, expects to make London's Southend Airport its home base, and serve destinations in the UK and the European mainland.

Speaking to ATI last week at the ERA General Assembly in Rome, Join chief executive Bernard Jacobs said: "[We'll] start with about 30 people. But each individual partner will have its commercial staff as well to do the sales, for instance, and the marketing in their own region. That's also a strength because someone in Normandy can much better sell the region, and the partner at the other end of the route, a UK-based partner, can do the sales for them on their behalf in the London region so you have multiple interests."

Jacobs said distribution for all the partners will come through "one channel" and all the partners will use "the same two-letter code".

He noted that Join "could be used as a brand", such as "Join Normandy", depending upon where each airline partner is located. "Join is really the recognition of a partnership."

Join will start "with some wet leases" and "dry leases", according to Jacobs. The carrier reportedly intends to lease turboprops from Dutch ACMI operator Denim Air.

Southend, which was acquired by Stobart Group in late 2008, secured government approval in March 2010 to extend its 1,605m (5,265ft) runway by 300m to enable it to accommodate Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 aircraft.

EasyJet recently announced plans to serve eight European destinations from Southend in April 2012.

At present, however, the airport is restricted to smaller types. "It allows us as a regional carrier to make use of that. I always believed that frequency was a much better product than capacity," said Jacobs, who believes Join will "absolutely" complement EasyJet's operations at Southend.

Join will also be well-placed to carry traffic into London for the 2012 Olympics, he said. "We'll certainly have charter capacity as well."

Operations from Southend are expected to begin in November, added Jacobs.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news