BUDGET airline easyJet is closing its base at Southend Airport in a surprise move prompted by the devastating downturn in the travel industry caused by Covid-19.

The airline is looking to close its base at Southend Airport, along with bases at Stansted Airport and Newcastle, with up to 5,000 jobs lost nationwide.

So will the airline still fly from Southend?

Airport chiefs hope so and talks are being planned to try to preserve routes from Southend. 

Bosses at the airport say they look forward to discussions with the budget carrier about its future use of the airport.

The airport is trading on its record and believes it is "uniquely placed" for safe, socially distanced travel. 

The spokesman added: “As such London Southend Airport continues to be a convenient and, as a result of the investment which is already under way, increasingly desirable airport for many passengers, particularly those based in London and the south east."

The airport regularly announces new routes, including a new one to Norway.

Aside from easyJet, Ryanair is the only major airline carrier from the airport.

This is because Flybe collapsed in March.

Ten routes from Southend Airport were lost as a result, despite attempts to save the airline through a Virgin and Stobart deal.

However, it is hoped the removal of the easyJet base will not see the cancellations of flights.

Bosses are pushing for flights to resume from Southend in July, if talks proved fruitful.

Kevin Robinson, Labour councillor responsible for business, culture and tourism in Southend, spoke of his sadness at the move by easyJet. 

 Mr Robinson said: “I feel for all those who have lost their jobs.

“The airline industry has been hit really hard by the coronavirus pandemic. It badly needs to find it’s feet again.

“I hope once flights abroad are in full swing again, easyJet can return to their base at Southend airport.

“There’s still that desire for the people of Southend to go abroad.  “You can tell from feedback from travel agents that people still want to go on holiday.

“It’s just really disappointing to see the base potentially going.

“We’re in constant discussions with the airport and our business partners, and that won’t change.”

Stobart Aviation Group, which owns the airport, was contacted over the move by easyJet to close its Southend base.