Job losses caused to Essex / London economy by expanded operations at Southend airport

With the arrival of easyJet flights using Southend airport over the past year, its number of passengers rose from a tiny number to around 720,000 in the year up to the end of February. The airport and the local authorities were bullish about the number of jobs that would be created and the boost to the local economy.  However, in reality it has turned out that almost all those using the easyJet holiday flights are Brits going abroad, with very few coming in the other direction.  On estimates (by government) of the cost of providing one job, the amount of jobs lost by the UK economy due to the exodus of British residents abroad can be calculated.  It costs around £24,000 to £28,000 to create a job. ONS data for 2011 shows the average Briton spent £557 per foreign trip.  With 325,000 Brits flying out of Southend, it can be calculated that the amount of money being sucked out of the UK economy would potentially support many thousand jobs (5,000 or 6,000 jobs or more) here, if that money was spent in the local economy instead. The airport employs about 500 people and claims more work around the airport, but in reality many of those are just jobs that have moved from elsewhere. Not many new jobs.




Job losses caused by expanded operations at Southend airport

22.5.2013 (SAEN – Stop Airport Expansion and Noise, at Southend)

It is now becoming clear that very few foreign tourists are using the airport to visit the UK. Far from seeing a flood of Europeans arriving at the airport and spending their euros in our shops, it is clear that the bulk of tourists are people from Essex and London who are travelling abroad. Those councillors who believed that the airport would bring large amounts of foreign income to Essex have proven to be misguided.

The latest data from Southend Airport (LSA) suggests the number of passengers using the airport in the past year may be around 650,000. As each passenger is counted when they leave, and when they arrive, that is some 325,000 UK passengers flying abroad.  SAEN are still trying to obtain precise data from the local authorities and LSA but can provide an indication on this implications of what is beginning to emerge.  SAEN must also express their gratitude to David Amess MP who has been very helpful in trying to get the data relating to this important issue.

DfT data shows that on average aviation tourists spend £395 when abroad on holiday. So 325,000 tourists equates to a loss of around £128 Million from the Essex/London economy. This is equivalent to a loss of around 5,300 jobs. [ If we accept that the cost of creating a job in the UK is approximately £23,000 (National Audit Office, 1999). A figure of £28,000 per job created is given at  link ].

[ In reality, the estimate of the amount spent on average per UK tourist going abroad it low. The average spend per visit abroad fell from £572 in 2010 to £557 in 2011 – data from the ONS, Travel Trends 2011  That includes visiting friends and family, as well as holidays..  AirportWatch comment.  That would then come to £181 million, for 325,000 passengers, and even considering the cost of creating each job to be £28,000 , that would mean the loss of some 6,400 jobs].

What is clear is that very many people in south Essex and east London are being tempted to take trips abroad because of the close proximity of the airport. Had these people not flown abroad, and their disposable income been spent on goods and services within the UK, then thousands of jobs would have been sustained within the UK. It is a spectacular own goal for government to facilitate the export of wealth and jobs. Set against the approximately 500 jobs created at the airport (of which around 150 came from Stansted) is the loss of around 6,000 jobs caused by sucking money out of the local area. [The airport is very proud that some time in early 2012 it employed 500 staff  link  . Set that against the number of jobs probably lost – maybe over 6,000 – due to the export of UK money by the easyJet holiday passengers].

We are working to obtain precise data on this issue but we want all councillors to confront this now. This will help them to see how misguided the decision was to expand airport operations and we hope this will encourage them to oppose any further expansion in the future.

The Stobart group has just published its interim report  (see below) on results to the year ended 28 February 2013. Pages 5, 16 and 36 all make reference to the 5 million passenger capacity of the new terminal building.  This is a prospect that will fill people living near Southend airport with dread, particularly since the report shows that passenger numbers ‘only’ reached 723,053 in the year to the end of February. Local Southend residents are already suffering a reduced quality of life due to the over-flying.

For some time the public has been informed that it must expect to contend with a target of 2 million passengers per annum. The mention of an aspiration of 5 million is  worrying.

  • LSA is damaging the local economy by encouraging ever larger numbers of people to travel abroad. Very few foreign tourists are using the routes to travel to the UK.
  • The re-location of IPECO to the Saxon Business Park only moves jobs and does not create them. It leaves premises in the Aviation Way empty (moving jobs between industrial estates is not the same as creating jobs);
  • The JAAP (Joint Area Action Plan) is overly optimistic to suggest that large numbers of employers will relocate next to an airport that will impose noise disruption, danger and an increasingly congested road network. If anything, there is a danger that many employers, like the local population, would prefer to move away.




By contrast, Southend Borough Council’s website states:

“London Southend Airport is a key regional and European transport hub, helping to generate important economic investment and jobs in Southend and the wider Thames Gateway.”


(from the FT – link)

“Denise Rossiter, chief executive of the Essex Chamber of Commerce, said the majority of local residents had been supportive of the airport’s plans. “The airport has been a real feelgood factor,” she said. “Job creation has been phenomenal.”    Some 1,500 are employed in and around the airport, a rise of 500 this year. Many work in the area’s longstanding aircraft maintenance sector, which includes companies such as Ipeco, a maker of seats for Boeing aircraft, and ATC Lasham, an aircraft repair and maintenance business.”




BBC 1 East news report on expansion at LSA

22.5.2013 (SAEN)

The SAEN committee has always known that the local press would fall over each other in a scramble to provide positive news about the airport (papers can only survive with advertising revenue).

But we have been bitterly disappointed with BBC coverage of the issue, which continually showed a bias in favour of the inaccurate and incomplete arguments made about job creation. The BBC continually seemed to pay a lack of attention to the adverse impact expansion was having upon the local community.

So it came as a surprise when the BBC contacted SAEN and asked to speak to people who were suffering an adverse impact. The BBC wanted to know about the human cost, the claims for financial compensation and even appeared to show an interest in the facts about jobs – that LSA is actually sucking £ hundreds of millions out of the Essex/London economy by encouraging ever more people to take their spending power abroad.

We are very grateful to two SAEN supporters who agreed to be interviewed by the BBC at very short notice. Our Vice Chairman was also interviewed, although only his comments about financial compensation were screened in the report that was broadcast.  While it is disappointing that the reality about the job losses airport operations are causing did not make it into the item, we were pleased that two of the three points did come out. The BBC allowed Alastair Welch to comment, which is fair; that is what balanced reporting is all about. What a shame, however, that the BBC and the local press publish so much from the airport, printing their propaganda, but so rarely permit SAEN to put our side of the argument.

Here is a link to a copy of the main BBC East report: – On YouTube




Stobart annual report published

The Stobart group has just published its interim report on results to the year ended 28 February 2013. Pages 5, 16 and 36 all make reference to the 5 million passenger capacity of the new terminal building. Comment has been sought from the two local councils on the implications of what is said in the report.

Also note further reference to capacity for 5 Million passengers on page 9 of the Stock Exchange report at