Eddie Stobart to take to the skies from Southend
its truck spotters, the fans who set up their deck chairs outside depots and tick
off the names of its 1,800 trucks – all girls; Peggy Sue, Grace or Dolly.
to launch cheap passenger flights to Europe from Southend airport in Essex – an
ambitious move that could see the company’s red, white and green logos emblazoned
on the side of the aircraft, each with a girl’s name. This should win the fans
over. There are already some taking snapshots of themselves outside the Eddie
Stobart café at Southend airport.
runway, which gained government approval last month, Andrew Tinkler, chief executive
of Eddie Stobart, is excited by the possibilities.
fans love us; it’s a great opportunity for marketing,” he says. Stobart trucks
could soon be advertising cheap flights as they plough down the M3.
currently a hub for aircraft maintenance and private business jets, a partnership
between Stobart and a European airline could transform Southend, once London’s
third-biggest passenger hub, into a rival to London City airport. Mr Tinkler is
hoping it will carry 2m passengers a year to and from North Africa and southern
Europe in time for the start of the Olympics in 2012 – almost as many as City
airport, which has shorter opening hours.
path, shaving 20 minutes off journey times to Europe and saving on fuel. Mr Tinkler
says the company has already won “a lot of interest” from European carriers and
services should be up and running soon.
station that will take passengers from the airport to Liverpool Street station
in 49 minutes has already been built.
engineers; and a shop with the brand’s paraphernalia – toy trucks and teddy bears.
teach children the benefits of green-friendly transport. If it sounds like Southend
airport may soon be a Stobart theme park, that is because it almost could be.
A Stobart flag already flies outside the main terminal.
bought Eddie Stobart in 2003 after the company ran into trouble during the fuel
crisis. Since then it has expanded dramatically, embracing rail, sea and air freight
in addition to its core road haulage business.
reported in 2008-09 to £540m, while analysts are forecasting that pre-tax profits
will have risen from £3.5m to £29m in the three years since it listed on the London
an integrated logistics service. Eighty- five per cent of air cargo freight in
and out of London comes on passenger aircraft so the company will save money with
an established airline as partner.
is based, last summer, and plans to run flights from there – both passenger and
“You always need a truck at the end of any journey,” he says. Truck spotters may