I know that UK business enterprises come in for a lot of stick from time to time (often rightly so) but I think Stobarts have handled this project extremely well.
They have managed something which many people - me included - didn't really think was possible nowadays. In effect they have built a new, international standard airport in an urban area on the site of a rundown airfield which survived only by virtue of the hangars remaining from its glory days thus enabling its MRO activities to thrive. For decades SEN lived on its history and just about refused to die, although it came close to it once or twice. Stobarts had not only the vision to see what might be achieved but put up the cash to make it happen; not just to create an airport adequate to meet the basic needs of potential airline customers, but offering something which wasn't available at other London airports. Chief among these was the goal of processing outbound pax through the terminal as speedily as possible and ensuring that they could offer pax very rapid transit times between arriving on-chocks and them leaving the car park/getting on the London train. Together with starting afresh with state-of-the-art navaids and lighting and squeezing the maximum distances out of the physically constrained runway strip they've created something truly fit to call itself London/Southend Airport.
OK, I know some will rightly say that even the extended runway places considerable constraints on the types of aircraft and destinations that are commercially viable, but I feel it is quite sufficient to meet the declared aim of 2 million pax per annum.
Well done to all the team at Stobart/SEN and those supporters who have also done their bit in convincing the local population that, on balance, a rejunevated SEN was a 'good thing' and who helped to counter the inaccurate, extremist propaganda of the main opposition group, SAEN.
A Serbian tour operator called KontikiSky is proposing to run daily flights from SEN to Antwerp starting on May 1 (with the aircraft routing Skopje-Antwerp-SEN and return - but apparently no through tickets bookable). This is Manx2-style virtual airline operation, it seems - the ICAO code of the actual wet-lease operator is ALR. I am guessing that the aircraft is a BAe RJ.
Anyone want to offer odds on the chance of this getting airborne, let alone surviving?
As far as I can establish, ALR is Lineas Aereas Alaire, a Barcelona based airline operating Brasilias, Metros and Beech 1990Ds. Such equipment might work to establish a SEN to Antwerp schedule. The Kon Tiki Sky website claims 14 flights per week.
But I'll believe it when I see the landing wheels touching down on our lovely new runway.
Sorry but Kon Tiki travel / Kon Tiki Sky is a VERY profitable and very successful travel company in eastern Europe. The branded planes being a more recent development of the last few years and the airline also has part-Gvmt involvement.
I'd first of all say, when this is on the Tarmac i'll trust it.
SSK - I'd say the route is unexpected yes, but not bizarre. When one considers SEN is marketing itself as a London airport, it's not bizarre that an airline should choose to serve it. Macedonia is hardly an overserved market from the UK.
I don't know the demographics of Antwerp too well but at a guess, there could be a sizeable Macedonian population round there and its not that far from Brussels so may not be bizarre either. There are other slightly 'strange' routes for that reason, like Tehran-Gothenburg, Porto-Dole
I think if I was contemplating going to Skopje it has got be Wizz from Luton. Would not trust KonTiki or whatever it is called as far as I could throw it! Starting 1 May - you must be having a laugh - like a lot of these so-called airlines saying they will operate into Southend. Dont´t hold you breath chaps.
Intriguing.... Time will tell if it starts and then lasts...
Cheapest return LCY - ANR is around £110-125. So a €70 return would definitely entice some of the financially canny passengers away from LCY, particularly as many originate from north and east London.
The Cityjet F50 3x daily service is generally well patronised, so I'd say there is demand. As I've said before, Antwerp involves a change of train in Brussels with an end to end time of about 3hrs, so a decent flight to/from small airports with minimal check in times and flight time of around 50mins can still compete.
Have a look - Eurostar website amended to £99 return with lots of dates not available and a quickest travel time of 4h 40. This is with a mad dash up and down stairs in Zuid/Midi station to try and fling yourself on the Thalys train to Amsterdam and then find your reserved seat.
Much rather saunter through a small airport, fly for 50 mins and take all of 5 minutes leaving Antwerp airport to jump in family car and be on ring road 5 mins later.
Perhaps you should have looked at the Kon Tiki Sky website before posting. They are not advertising or trying to sell SKP from SEN. The outbound SEN-ANR does not even connect with ANR-SKP unless you wait all day in Antwerp. SKP-ANR-SEN looks like a through runner 3 days a week but they are not advertising it as such.
SKP-ANR may sound odd but it would serve the dual purpose of servicing their ANR base and the other new routes they are apparently trying to set up.
Post #12 by JSCL makes interesting reading about Kon Tiki Sky's background. It suggests this is a much more substantial company than some have been assuming. Of course it is largely unknown in the UK and this could be an obstacle for it to overcome.
I do not hold a view on the likelihood or otherwise of this actually coming about. But I would just remind everyone that only a year ago there was a whole raft of uninformed negativity on this thread's predecessor about SEN, EZY and A319s which was proved spectacularly wrong.
Last edited by Tagron; 10th Mar 2012 at 00:54.
Reason: Post no.