Could This Be The Most Important Economic News For The District – For Years??

According to the Echo:

LONDON City Airport could pay up to ?100million to take over Southend Airport.

Bosses at the east London terminal are the first to confirm their bid to run Southend Airport, pledging to develop business and passenger flights if their proposal is accepted.

Current airport operator, Regional Airports, put its 99-year lease from Southend Council up for sale last month, in a sealed bid auction which is expected to raise in the region of ?100million.

Rupa Haria, spokeswoman for London City, said: “I can confirm London City Airport has put forward a bid to take over Southend…..

The Independent covers the story in more depth:

London City airport has made a surprise bid in the ?100m auction of rival Southend airport.

The sale is taking place amid a civil war in the aviation industry, with airlines, unions and politicians fighting over whether the airport holdings of the market-leading operator BAA should be broken up.

City’s bid was unexpected, as its management had thought the airport’s core business passenger base would not want to go to Southend in Essex.

However, Richard Gooding, City airport’s chief executive, said: “There is a shortage of airports in the South-east, and Southend therefore presents an opportunity.”

A source close to Regional Airports, Southend’s owner, insisted that City was one of the more logical suitors, given that the two airports are within an hour’s train journey of each other. City has been backed by its owners, AIG, the insurance giant, and Global Infrastructure Partners, a joint venture between GE Infrastructure and Credit Suisse.

More than 40 parties were sent information memorandums on Southend last month. Dawnay Day, the owner of Oxford airport; Cognetas, the private equity group; and Macquarie, the Australian bank, are all thought to be interested…..

The Independent has also previously highlighted the global impact of more and more flights:

Cheap flights. More flights. Multiplying routes. At the end of a week that has seen protests against airport expansion, predictions of further airport chaos, and record oil prices, British travellers are showing no sign of shaking off their addiction to CO2-heavy cheap flights…..

….The spring of 2008 is likely to prove the most dramatic in Britain’s aviation history. Even before the summer schedules, a dozen new routes are being launched ? starting at 8.30am today with the maiden flight of Flywatch from Southend to Le Touquet in northern France…..

  • My biggest concern with this news is that if Southend Airport does expand significantly, we may see more noise pollution from aircraft. I know we are not on the main flightpath, but we do occasionally get low flying aircraft come over us.

    The other thing to consider is that although they are proposing to build a new station at the airport, back in the real world most people will want to drive or get a shuttle bus. There is not much room for extra carparking at Southend airport, and road access is not brilliant.

    I personally think there are enough airports in the region, and would far rather see improvements in road and rail links, particularly for the short haul destinations in Europe. The article mentions a new route from Southend to Le Touquet – I’ve driven to Le Touquet recently for a day trip, it’s about 40 minutes from Calais. Given the time taken to get to the airports, time allowed for check-in, delays in security, flight time and transfers, it is quite likely that it is quicker to drive, cheaper, and gives you the benefit of having your car to use at the other end (plus room for a visit to the Hypermarche on theway back).

    I’m sure a train could do it even quicker if it had the right connections.

  • Noise pollution is the least of the problems.

    This is idiocy of the highest order. Our love affair with the cheap flight will prove, soon, to have been the least well-advised and least-sustainable relationship we have entered into…

    Madness and greed…

  • Having read ST1’s response, I wonder where his/her priorities lie. If a plane load of people chose the option to take their cars to Le Touquet, it would probably create as much pollution as the plane and would result in further road congestion. Many people now say that if better public transport was available they would reduce their use of the car.
    I believe that bidders ‘London City Airport’ are taking a big gamble due to the fact that Continental travellers now have the option of the High Speed train from either Stratford or Ebsfleet and as stated by ST1, “a train could do it even quicker”.
    I do have concerns however regarding the routes additional car travellers and airport coaches will take to get to London-Southend Airport as I am sure many will choose to come through our District to avoid the holdups at Progress Road on the A127.
    Despite my concerns regarding access to the airport, I would rather see this venture succeed than have a new town built on the airport site, which has been suggested in the past. Think of the road congestion and pollution this would cause!!

  • Nothing to do with the city airport being in a prime commercial developement site ? So transfering traffic to southend .The whole debate about increased capacity in the air is absolute madness I agree totally with Paul and his very real fears for the future of our planet time to call a halt to any expansion and indeed reduce our addiction to flying . For a start VAT on airfuel and a true charge on pollution weighted onto ticket price.I may be one of the few who have never flown but I see even less need to do so .I have used Eurostar and found it a most agreeable way to travel . I believe that all exra taxes raised by so called environmental charges MUST be ringfenced and used to improve the capacity of our domestic rail network . I feel under the existing multi owned rail businesses we will not get the results we all wish for , and felt at the time off privitisation it would not provide the service at a reasonable cost that would encourage evn more use of the network. It is also necessary to recreate a coordinated local bus network instead of the piecemeal unreliably sporadic service available now .
    Please also note the rumblellings coming from some sources of the ressurection of the thames estuary super airport {Maplin!!} now I was a member of the Defenders of Essex and remember the previous fight which I felt possibly let down parts of Essex because of what we now see at Stansted and what might be planned there.

  • I think that if we got a new airport we would also get more large housing developments, there would be no stopping the planners then. They would come up with the idea that there would be more employment which is correct but more houses, cars, congestion, pollution and still not enough infrastructure!

    I agree that building more airports is madness, I’m sure that people with young children do not want their children growing up amongst all the pollution that would ensue.

  • How many commerical airports does Kent have? Surrey? Norfolk? Why does Essex need two? Stanstead is being expanded, Southend doesn’t need to be. The current infrastructure can’t even support car movement now, it will be much, much worse if the Southend expansion happens and infrastructure isn’t altered.

  • My comments were designed to highlight the fact that a lot of the short haul flights that are being offered these days are actually a lot less convenient than other forms of travel, particularly to some western parts of Europe. If a car can do the journey in a similar time to a plane, even with speed limits and the high levels of congestion, then a properly designed and funded rail system must be a much better option than more flights.

    I travel frequently on business into Europe, and usually it is quicker to fly. But in the past I once swapped a regular flight to Maastricht for a car journey using the Eurotunnel, and my door to door trip was half an hour quicker.

    Likewise, colleagues that travel to Paris on a regular basis find the Eurostar far quicker and more convenient than flying.

    Furthermore, I have often been on shorthaul flights where there have been no more than 5 or 6 passengers on the plane. I’d like to know if we really need more flights if the ones we already have are not fully utilised.

    I guess I have a bit of an aversion to flying anyway – or at least an aversion to airports. I’ve spent a lot of time in airports (3 return flights this month alone), and the whole experience fills me with dread. Last week I found out that you can no longer carry fountain pens onto a flight for security reasons, although I’m not sure if this is because they could be used as a weapon, or because they breach the fluid restrictions. It’s pathetic!

    However, whether you travel or not, more planes travelling overhead means more noise, and more emissions. I now find that when I visit my parents in Upminster, I am much more aware of the planes heading for City airport than when I lived there. And the fact remains that this corner of Essex is very densely populated, and the infrastructure has not been improved to cope with current traffic, without the inevitable increase that projects such as this will bring.