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Esken group has high hopes for London’s ‘sixth airport’ at Southend

Premium Analysis

London has one of the highest ratios of airports serving it. There are six in total that carry the ‘London’ prefix.

The smallest by passenger numbers is London Southend, which is 45 miles (70km) to the east on the Essex coast, but before the pandemic it was by far the fastest growing, albeit from a small base.

Its owner, 'Esken', previously the Stobart Group, had been approached to sell its airports and airline business but that fell through. Now Esken has done a deal with the US private equity firm Carlyle, by way of one of its funds, for a large loan that should secure its financial future and could lead to Carlyle subsequently converting some of the loan into equity.

Now the challenge facing Esken is to regrow the airport faster and better than its much bigger rivals, but it does have some advantages.

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