Which? Magazine, the highly regarded consumer publication, has just announced the results of a customer survey of Britain’s airports declaring London’s Southend Airport
to be the country’s best.
Despite years of being told that Heathrow was one of the world’s top airports, both in terms of size and facilities, it seems it’s the minnows that take accolades from travellers when it comes to the experience of using them.
With plenty of talk of late over the plans for London’s main hub airport in the future, the smallest of the capital’s airports has been declared the best.
Southend has an interesting history with its origins in World War I as RFC Rochford. More glory came with a pivotal role in the Second World War before it was returned to commercial use in 1947.
For over fifteen years in the 60s and 70s, it was Britain’s third busiest airport after Heathrow and Gatwick but when Stansted opened, business fell away and its future became uncertain.
The purchase by the successful and iconic Stobart Group in 2008 saw an almost immediate change in its fortunes and passenger numbers have climbed steadily since. This year will see passenger numbers rise to over three quarters of a million with plans to reach two million by 2020.
£100m of investment has seen the addition of a rail link with a journey time of under an hour into Liverpool Street Station making it truly a London Airport.
A new terminal opened last year but is already being extended, whilst Britain’s two biggest tour operators have announced holiday departures from Southend next year.
In the survey, passengers loved the speed of access both in and out of the airport with efficient check in and passport controls as well as easy navigation of the well planned terminal.
The facilities, which are due to be expanded with the extension of the terminal, already include two café restaurants, a bar, an extensive duty free facility plus currency exchange and ATMs. In the extended facility, more shops will be added as well as more places to eat, for one of the few negatives in the survey was the waiting time for food due to the rapidly increasing passenger traffic.
Space restrictions will ultimately halt the advance of Southend’s plans but with superb facilities, a healthy passenger through flow and the proximity to central London, the future’s never looked brighter for Britain’s most highly rated airport so if you’re a Londoner, think twice about the journey to Gatwick, Stansted or Luton and instead consider Southend.