SOUTHEND Airport has been named the best airport in Britain – in the same week it began using therapy dogs to help keep passengers calm.

This is the fourth time in the past five years the airport has scooped the top award from the Airport Operators Association... and bosses are trying to make the experience even better.

In a bid to help fliers who suffer from anxiety and a phobia of flying, a partnership with Canine Concern has been launched.

Canine Concern’s four-legged friends will roam the terminal with their accompanying handlers every week to offer comfort to passengers at the airport.

Therapy dogs are known to reduce anxiety and can help nervous fliers regain their confidence.

Valerie Fillery CEO of Canine Concern said: “We are very excited to be working with Southend Airport and we hope our dogs will bring joy to those they encounter – particularly any anxious passengers. Our charity has a long-established reputation for bringing joy to the lives of others in various community settings – and so our being able to extend this to Southend Airport is a great result.”

The team of six therapy dogs are specifically trained by Canine Concern to help passengers feel welcomed and relaxed at the airport.

The AirPaws crew will be easily identifiable in their branded T-shirts and their dogs will be sporting blue bandanas.

Glyn Jones, CEO of Stobart Aviation, said: “We are delighted to enter into this new partnership with Canine Concern, as well as adding six new furry friends to the London Southend team. As London’s favourite airport, we continue striving to make our airport stress-free and enjoyable for all passengers travelling through the airport.

“We look forward to seeing the smiles the AirPaws Crew will bring to travellers and are proud to partner Canine Concern AirPaws.”

And with the airport set to secure close to 2.3 million customers this year, and with ambitious plans to expand further in the future, airport bosses welcomed the latest top prize.

Mr Jones said “To win ‘Best Airport in Britain’ for the fourth year in five is a major achievement and is once again down to all the hard work that the team at London Southend has put in.

“As the UK’s fastest-growing airport, we are more accessible than ever, with up to six trains an hour into London, including new early and late services, and car parks right next to the terminal.

“We are easy to use, with short walking distances, and a lack of queues compared to other London airports meaning passengers can travel from plane to train in 15 minutes.

“We also offer market-leading customer service and have a rapidly expanding network of over 40 routes.”