PASSENGERS can fly from Southend Airport from next March.

Stobart Group, who bought the airport in December 2008, have agreed a five-year deal with Irish airline Aer Arann.

It is hoped the airport will serve 300,000 passengers a year flying to places such as Ireland and France.

The offer remains conditional on certain terms being satisfied, including Aer Arann successfully exiting Examinership. The company and their Examiner will be working to eliminate these conditions and it is hoped that the company could exit Examinership before the end of the month.

Airport Managing Director, Alastair Welch, said: “Stobart Group has agreed terms for a five year operating agreement with Aer Arann to use London Southend Airport for flights starting March 2011, with volumes expected to grow to 300,000 passengers annually. As part of the overall investment agreement with others, Stobart Group will invest €2.5 million to incentivise and market Aer Arann’s operation from London Southend Airport."