For Sale: London Southend Airport


For Sale: London Southend Airport

2 min read

In recent years, the UK property market has been shaky, to say the least. Interest rates are rising, prices are falling, and no one really knows when or how it will end. But if you can’t get your dream home amidst the chaos, why not set your sights high and buy an airport instead?

After a significant drop in passenger numbers, London Southend has been put up for sale, and if you have a few million to spare, it could be yours.

Why is it Struggling?

The COVID pandemic crippled the international travel sector, and London Southend was one of its many victims. Located on the outskirts of Southend-on-Sea, the international airport saw passenger numbers drop by 90% during the lockdowns.

Once considered London’s third-biggest airport (back in its heyday during the ‘60s and ‘70s), London Southend reached a point where just a few flights were leaving every day. In February 2022, it recorded post-tax losses of £21.5 million, with three of its biggest airlines—easyJet, Ryanair, and Wizz Air—all scrapping flights in and out of the airport.

Esken, formerly known as Stobart Group Limited currently owns the airport and has been looking for a new buyer since the beginning of the year.

How Much Will it Cost?

It remains to be seen how much the airport will fetch. It was first purchased by Esken back in 2008, with the company paying £21 million. Tens of millions were invested in expanding the airport in the proceeding years, including an extended terminal and a new airport tower. These changes led to London Southend being voted the best London airport between 2013 and 2019 and the best British airport between 2013 and 2015 by Which? magazine.

It couldn’t avoid the catastrophic effects of the pandemic though and both the airport and the travel sector have changed considerably since then.

What is its Future?

Although the news is pretty bleak for London Southend, it’s far from the final page in the airport’s nearly 90-year history. The pandemic brought the industry to its knees and the current economic crisis is doing its best to keep it there, but there is a lot of hope for the future of air travel.

The demand for international travel is expected to increase by over 4% per annum for the next 20 years. People will always want to travel, and while there are concerns regarding the industry’s carbon footprint, new designs and technologies—including hydrogen-powered planes—could make it more eco-friendly. The population of London and the UK in general is also growing, and as London Southend has picked up a number of awards for customer satisfaction, it could be primed to benefit from that growth.

Of course, no one knows what will happen in the future. Half a decade ago, it seemed that the only threat to the airline industry was its hefty carbon footprint, and then the pandemic struck and carbon emissions became the least of its problems. However, we can be fairly certain that the new owners of London Southend have a lot of work to do if this airport is going to remain profitable as it heads toward its centenary year in 2035.