SOUTHEND Airport continues to fly high after being named the fastest growing in Europe.

The airport has been named top in a survey of 300 other airports after posting a 57.1 per cent increase in its passenger numbers from 2012 to 2013.

The survey was compiled by the industry leading website, Airline Network News and Analysis, which found 617,556 passengers flew from Southend in 2012, growing to 969,950 in 2013, giving it the largest percentage increase.

The news comes as passengers begin using the new £10million terminal extension, which has more check-in desks to cope with the growth in demand.

Ralph Anker, chief analyst at said: “London Southend’s impressive growth in 2013 demonstrates what can happen when additional capacity is made available in a constrained market.

“London remains an attractive destination for visitors.

“There is a huge population within London Southend’s catchment area that appreciates the growing range of destinations it is able to offer to its customers.”

Second place in the survey was Diyarbakir, in Turkey, with a 38.7 per cent increase, while the next best performing London airport was London City in 46th place with just a 12 per cent increase.

David Lister, the airport’s operations director, said: “This is fantastic news and perfect timing as we celebrate the completion of our terminal extension.

“At Southend, passengers flying out from the airport wait for a maximum of four minutes for security, while those arriving with just hand luggage can expect to travel from plane to train within 15 minutes of leaving the aircraft.

“We are convinced it is those high standards of service that are responsible for Southend becoming so popular over the past 12 months, and why we are extending the terminal to ensure standards are not compromised as passenger numbers grow.”

The terminal building is 90m longer with a new arrivals area, enhanced baggage reclaim facilities and additional space for immigration as well as a dedicated domestic arrivals route.

The amount of space for passengers in the security area and departure lounge has increased, and there is also a new covered walkway connecting the railway station and terminal.

Five more aircraft stands have also been completed, significantly increasing the airport’s capacity.

Hugh Aitken, easyJet’s UK commercial manager, added: “easyJet is delighted to be part of Southend Airport’s success story.”

The airport has set a target of flying two million passengers a year by 2020.