As part of the continued expansion of its holiday programme from its home UK market and in particular supporting a business strategy to enable customers to fly from their local airport, tour operators Thomson Holidays and First Choice have announced a tripling of its flight operations from London Southend Airport for summer 2014.
Following the initial success and advanced bookings for its new weekly link to Palma introduced this year, there will be the introduction of a second weekly rotation next year, enabling customers more choice and the ability to book a mix of seven, ten, eleven or 14 night holidays rather than the existing week and fortnight options. A second route to Balearic Islands will also be offered in summer 2014 with a weekly service to Ibiza.
“Adding these routes from London Southend Airport demonstrates our commitment to the East of England and following the success of similar routes across a number of regional airports, we know that the demand is there and we know customers are keen to fly from their local airport,” said Paul Cooper, Airport Negotiations Manager for Thomson and First Choice. “Expanding access to our portfolio of destinations and hotels is a key part of our overall strategy and we hope that this move will enhance the holiday experience for our customers.”
The announcement comes just a couple of weeks before London Southend opens the first phase of a major terminal extension which will enable the facility to grow to meet its target of two million passengers per year by 2020. The initial terminal building only became operational just a year ago but with Aer Lingus Regional and easyJet already reporting strong passenger growth and with network development ambitions, additional capacity is required to ensure the facility retains the strong customer service traits that have made it popular with passengers.
As part of the works, the terminal building is being extended 90 metres longer and will open in phases throughout 2013. The first phase, the Arrivals area will have enhanced baggage reclaim facilities and much more space for immigration as well as a dedicated domestic arrivals route. The second phase, due for completion in October, will boost the size of the security area, while phase three, opening in November, will see changes to the check-in area and baggage drop off points. The Departure Lounge will also grow in size to enhance the experience for passengers awaiting boarding after security and this fourth and final phase of the project is due to complete in December 2013.
The HUB spoke to Alastair Welch, Managing Director, London Southend during the recent Routes Europe forum in Budapest, Hungary in May 2013 and he was upbeat about developments at the facility and confident that additional destinations will be added to the network map in the coming months. “We are very pleased that Thomson and First Choice have taken the decision to expand the services they offer from London Southend so soon and we hope this will allow even more of their passengers to experience our new and expanding facilities over the next year,” he added.