Residents watched the last plane land from Southend yesterday, as the base was officially closed for good.
The news has been a great success for the many loyal employees and customers who have used easyJet flights to and from Southend over the past nine years.
Since 2011, the airline has grown to serve 16 destinations from Southend but has been hit hard by the pandemic.
London Southend Airport Air Traffic Control released a few words to mark the end of the airline’s operations yesterday.
“Due to the devastating effects of the coronavirus this year, we are still shocked and saddened to say goodbye as today marks the last easyJet flights,” they wrote.
“We know you will miss the million (+) people easyJet flies from the airport each year, and everyone at Southend ATC will miss the voices that have become distant friends over the years. ”
Residents shared videos and images of the last planes landing at the airport yesterday, along with many emotional farewell messages.
Just over a week ago, protesters stood outside the airport against the base’s closure as up to 1,290 cabin crew and pilots were sacked.
It is clear that for many, the loss of easyJet from Southend Airport will be important to the local community at an already difficult time.
“It’s a huge thing for the region”
Susie Allen, who lives just five minutes from the airport, was one of the frequent flyers with easyJet to Southend.
The 54-year-old was devastated to hear the news that the base was going to shut down and fears the impact it will have on the employees at the center of it.
“It’s really sad,” she said.
“I have two close friends who are both easyJet cabin crew and one of the girls has been doing it from the start and has progressed and she’s just broken.
“They can’t fly with any other airline. It’s a huge thing for the region, for the people. ”
Susie has been traveling with the airline since its inception, even though there were only one or two destinations.
With Covid-19 aside, it normally uses easyJet four or five times a year.
“It’s been fantastic, I love traveling and when you compare it to the long schlep to Heathrow or Gatwick it’s so little hassle.
“They are reliable, I have never been late. They were always announcing new flights all the time and it was exciting to hear them and say oh we like it! “
Susie has always been interested in flying and often spent an afternoon having coffee and watching planes come and go.
“I have a few small models of jets at home,” she says.
“I took my kids there and the easyJet pilots always greeted me.
“The crew were very helpful – there was a great pilot, Henrick, he was going out and doing the speech and he was hilarious. He said you all have to take a test before you take off.
“It was fun from start to finish. If you were a frequent flyer like me you see the same crew and it was more like a community airline.
“It was the personal touch like Christmas with Santa’s flight and all the easyJet crew would get dressed and the kids would get on the plane and it would fly for about half an hour. ”
Susie thinks the repercussions of losing the airline will be significant.
“I think it’s going to have a big impact on the city, it’s a big loss.
“Obviously with the economy people who lose their jobs cannot go to restaurants and that has a ripple effect, it will be devastating.
“If you like aviation and local support, you see the picture. I am a part of it all, I love using local services and have always had an interest in aviation.
“We know people who work there, we have a friend who is on the Southend ground crew and they are worried about their jobs.”
If you’re looking for a way to keep up with the latest breaking news from Essex, the EssexLive newsletter is a good place to start.
The daily update will bring top news and features to your inbox each morning and evening.
We choose the most important stories of the day to include in the newsletter, including crime, court news, long readings, traffic and travel, food and drink articles and more.
Signing up for the newsletter is easy. Fair put your email address in the box at the top of this story and click “subscribe.”
This is one of the many ways you can read the news that matters to you from EssexLive.
Overcome the fear of flying
For Wendie Ball, the easyJet teams in Southend were one of the reasons she was able to overcome her fear of flying.
At 50, Wendie had never flown before, having such a fear of heights and flight.
But with the support of the easyJet teams at her local airport, she was able to board a plane for the very first time.
“I’ve only been flying six years actually, I had my first flight at 50,” said the 56-year-old.
“I was afraid of heights for years and like everything as you get older the fear gets worse and I hit 50 and my daughter said ‘why don’t we go to Spain like everyone else. world? and I thought we had to do it.
“My daughter has Aspergers and I didn’t want her to be as scared as me, so we went to book a flight and the staff were absolutely amazing. ”
Wendie booked a flight to Jersey and her daughter Mia, then 15.
“I was shaking and I was very nervous, but at the same time I was trying to hide it for my daughter,” she said.
“As soon as I sat down I said it was my first time on a plane and I was really scared and they reassured me all along, they talked to me sitting down, after take off .
“The staff at Easy Jet – everyone has a bad day at work – but they don’t, they are always happy and want to help.
“Without easyJet, I probably would have gotten off the plane. I would have sat and then I would have come down because the anxiety was so strong. “
Once, a flight to Portugal was delayed and Wendie said the easyJet team let Mia into the cockpit.
Wendie added: “It meant a lot to both of us, she gave her and me more confidence in flying. They just seem to go further so that you feel very comfortable.
Wendie now tries to fly twice a year with the easyJet crew to Southend, but without them now she doesn’t think she can take on other airports like Stansted.
“It’s sad news because the next closest airport is Stansted and for the people who live here it’s a long journey.
“You are apprehensive of getting to Stansted, I couldn’t have driven when there is no stress at Southend Airport.
“I think because it’s a small airport, there is a big community here. Obviously, for the staff, this is going to have a huge impact.
“It’s devastating. “
On August 17, Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, commented on the decision to close the three bases.
He said: ‘We had to make the very difficult decision to close three UK bases due to the unprecedented impact of the pandemic and the associated travel restrictions, made worse by the quarantine measures in the UK which are having an impact. on the travel request.
“By working closely with our employee representatives, I am pleased that we have been able to identify ways to significantly reduce the number of mandatory layoffs offered by providing enhanced voluntary layoff packages for all UK staff, as well as additional options such as part-time and seasonal contracts, basic transfers. and unpaid leave which we believe will lead to an overall reduction in the number of job losses.
“We would like to reassure customers wishing to fly from these airports that we are now contacting anyone whose flight is affected with clear advice on their options, including re-routing through alternative airports or obtaining a full refund.
“I know this is a very difficult time for our pilots and our crew and I want to thank them for their continued professionalism.
Marie Gofted lives along the flight path of easyJet planes from Southend to Leigh-on Sea.
As soon as she heard the news, she knew it would have a big impact – both positive and negative for people.
The 50-year-old captured photos of an easyJet plane near St Laurence and All Saints Church, which was originally suggested to be demolished for the runway.
However, the airport has instead realigned the runway.
“I’ve had very mixed reactions from people,” she says.
“They’re all flying over our house, if a plane passed by now we wouldn’t get along but I don’t mind.
“I like to see them come out.
“I know a few people who work there in the industry, and seeing their families now, they’re going to struggle – struggle to find another job and so many people in October will be out of work.
“The impact on the community is the worst thing, I think it’s incredibly sad. ”
On a personal level, Marie said having easy access to fly from Barcelona to Southend was amazing, but her main concerns are with employees and those directly affected.
“I have friends who have kids in college who relied on the plane to Southend,” she said.
“I was upset when I heard the news, but my mom was completely the opposite – she was thrilled, she also lives on the flight path.
“The impact will be huge on both sides, one side applauding and celebrating and the other desperately worried. ”