Ryanair to open base at Southend despite fears over Brexit
Ryanair will open a base at London Southend Airport next April.
The low-cost airline, led by Michael O'Leary, announced it will operate 13 routes to eight countries from the Essex airport, including Barcelona, Corfu, Milan and Venice.
There will be more than 55 flights a week carrying an estimated one million passengers each year.
Three aircraft will be based at Southend, creating 750 on-site jobs per year, according to the budget carrier.
Ryanair chief commercial officer David O'Brien said: "Ryanair guests travelling to and from London and the Essex area can now enjoy low fares on a choice of 13 routes through London Southend's exceptionally passenger-friendly terminal.
"Southend Airport's train station will deliver direct services from the terminal to London Liverpool Street and also the new Crossrail service opening in 2019, making the airport even more accessible from all parts of London."
Ryanair has previously warned it will pivot growth away from the UK after Brexit. Mr O'Brien insisted the decision to open a base at Southend should not be viewed as a "vote of confidence into the future of UK aviation".
Almost a quarter of Ryanair's capacity growth this year will be in Germany, compared with just 10% in the UK.
"You can see how the UK is beginning to lag within the Ryanair environment," Mr O'Brien said.
He added that the closure of Ryanair's base at Glasgow Airport is due to its "remoteness", decreasing demand and air passenger duty.
Demand for flights from the UK to Europe is flat this year while passenger numbers from countries such as Germany, Italy and Spain are growing.
Stobart Group, which owns and operates London Southend, has been rocked in recent weeks by efforts from key shareholders to install retail boss Philip Day as chairman of the firm and boot out incumbent Iain Ferguson.