London Southend Airport now has a new FBO, run by Stobart, a trucking/transport company that also owns the airport. The official opening of the Stobart Jet Centre will take place on January 18, although visiting business aircraft have been able to make use of the facilities since January 1.
AIN visited the FBO in late December as Stobart was putting the finishing touches on the facility. Stephen Grimes, the managing director of Stobart Jet Centre, said, "We're expecting an exciting year, with Luton full and Northolt [temporarily] closing." He added that despite it having a very small proportion of London's business jet traffic at present, Southend is one of only three London-area airports to operate 24/7 (the others are Stansted and Luton, which have significant low-cost carrier and other airline traffic). Southend has some airline traffic—for example, easyJet and Stobart's own Aer Arann services—but is comparatively quiet.
In 2016, Southend saw 900 business aircraft movements, but Grimes expects this to climb to at least 2,000 this year and reach 10,000 annually by 2022. He said it costs £1,000 ($1,354) to park a BBJ at Southend for 24 hours, compared with £7200 ($9,751) at Luton. Grimes is also making an arrangement with London City Airport to provide temporary parking for visiting aircraft to that airport, which has extremely limited parking space.
The airport, which is 52 minutes by train from London's Liverpool Street Station, has 12 stands that can accommodate bizliners and also a hangar that can house four more. Visitors can also take a helicopter to London Battersea Heliport via locally based Apollo Helicopters, which operates seven helicopters. A 127-room Holiday Inn adjacent to the FBO provides four-star accommodations for visitors, with another hotel being planned to boost on-site capacity.