London Southend Airport (LSA) passenger terminal closed its doors in November 2020 for the second lockdown. Most airlines had already suspended or cancelled flights at the start of the month due to the restrictions imposed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to stop the spread of Covid-19. Many of its staff remained on furlough due to the challenging economic times. LSA had already reduced the number of cargo flights it handled each night following a campaign from the local community concerned about noise levels. The airport operates cargo flights, the majority of which bring in Amazon goods.
It is believed that 161 jobs were lost as a direct result of Easyjet, which had served 16 destinations from LSA since 2011, following its withdrawal from the airport from 31 August 2020. The door was reportedly ‘left open’ for its return when the market recovers, and this may indeed be the case after it was reported on 14 January 2021, that EasyJet received a £1.4 billion five-year state-backed loan,  underwritten by a group of banks, to help it survive Covid.
After Easyjet announced its departure from LSA, low-cost flights competitor Ryanair was not slow in taking steps to boost its stake at the airport with the introduction of new routes from 1 July to fill the void. However, it was soon forced to cut its winter flights by a third due to low demand and travel restrictions across Europe, and then suspended all flights, raising speculation as to whether it will pull its base at Southend.
The Premier Trade Organisation ‘ADS’ reported on 4 January 2021, that LSA had achieved government support to promote trade operations post-Brexit, and received more than £2.1 million as part of the Government’s Port Infrastructure Fund. The funds were awarded for airport’s infrastructure development Plans, and was welcomed as a welcome boost to the airport and to local economy. The existing import and export cargo facilities at the airport were also recognised as playing a vital role throughout the pandemic, and the news meant job security whilst positioning the airport to maintain the vital flow of goods between the UK and the EU.
Low-cost airlines reigned at LSA, with EasyJet and Flybe providing the majority of flights to and from mainland Europe. Fares to France are usually competitive, with both these airlines plus Air France offering a service to Paris from Southend. As a ‘leisure’ airport, the potential is there for a quicker recovery than other airports in the UK, and is far more popular with tourists than people flying for business purposes. In the longer term, it is likely that it will be 2024 before the market can have recovered sufficiently to create a sustainable level of demand.
The British Charter airline TUI Airways Limited  is one of the companies currently offering holiday destinations from LSA for 2021, and the low-cost online travel agency ‘Sunshine Travel’ also offers insurance cover for Covid-19 Medical, Cancellation and Curtailment costs.