EasyJet began operating services by opening a base at Southend in April 2012 and Irish carrier Aer Lingus Regional began regular flights to Dublin in May, resulting in a rapid increase in airport passenger numbers during 2012, with 721,661 using the airport in that year, 969,912 in 2013 and 1,102,358 in 2014. The following year saw a decline to 900,648 and again to 874,549 in 2016, while 2017 saw passenger numbers increase more than 25% to 1,095,914. The airport operator hopes to increase passenger numbers to two million per year by 2020. In 2018 Southend Airport saw an increase of nearly 400,000 passengers over the previous year's total, with just over 1.4 million passengers using the airport, the highest annual total at the airport to date.
The current terminal was completed in February 2012. The terminal has since been extended by 90 metres, almost tripling the facility in size. The former terminal now provides facilities for the handling of executive aircraft, with a business lounge and conference rooms.
A four-star Holiday Inn hotel adjacent to the airport entrance, owned by the Stobart Group, opened on 1 October 2012, at that time having the only rooftop restaurant in Essex.
London Southend was voted the best airport in Britain for three consecutive years by consumer group Which?, in 2013, 2014 and again in 2015., and best London airport for 6 consecutive years 2013-2019 
Aerial view looking north-east, prior to the construction of the runway extension
Southend Airport handles mainly scheduled passenger, charter, cargo and business flights, with some pilot training (both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter) and private aircraft flying. The airport is run by London Southend Airport Co Ltd, which employs more than 150 people directly. Due to expansion, there were over 500 more people working at the airport in summer 2012 compared with summer 2011.
Southend Airport has a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Ordinary Licence that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction as authorised by the licensee (London Southend Airport Company Limited).
Southend Airport has an excellent weather record, and is used by airlines as a diversion alternative when adverse weather or incidents cause other London airports to be closed.
Airline ground handling is provided by the Stobart Group-owned Stobart Aviation Services, whilst the Stobart Jet Centre handles executive aircraft using the facility.
Companies located within the airport boundary employ more than 800 workers. Previously British World Airlines had its head office at Viscount House at London Southend Airport.
The airfield was established by the Royal Flying Corps during World War I. It was the largest flying ground in Essex, with the greatest number of units. In May 1915 the Royal Navy Air Service (RNAS) took over until 4 June 1916, when it became RFC Rochford. It was designated as night fighter station and many sorties were flown against Zeppelin airship raiders, including LZ38 on 31 May 1915. Around 1919, the station closed and reverted to farmland, which it remained as until the 1930s.
In 1939, the Air Ministry requisitioned the airfield and it was known as RAF Rochford during World War II as a satellite airfield. During World War II, it became a base for fighter squadrons comprising Supermarine Spitfires and Hawker Hurricanes as well as Bristol Blenheims. Many of the 50 pillboxes that were designed to protect the airport from paratroop landings still survive, as does the underground defence control room, which is near to Southend Flying Club. A further 20 or so pillboxes also remain in the surrounding countryside.
Canewdon, 2 miles (3 km) north-east of the airport, was the location of one of the World War II Chain Homeradar stations. The 360-foot (110 m) high transmitter tower at Canewdon was relocated to the Marconi works at Great Baddow in the 1950s.
1993: Regional Airports Ltd
Temporary closing of barriers across Eastwoodbury Lane was required for large aircraft movements until the road was diverted to enable the construction of the runway extension in August 2012
In 1993, after the airport had been making losses for many years, Southend Borough Council sold the airport to Regional Airports Ltd (RAL), operator of Biggin Hill Airport. London Southend Airport Co Ltd was formed to operate the airport which was re-branded as "London Southend Airport" with the term "Municipal" dropping from the title. The previous losses were turned into small profits for majority of tenure by RAL.
The largest aircraft ever to land at the Airport was in November 1998 when a Lockheed L-1011 Tristar of Irish airline Aer Turas arrived for scrapping at the airport.
In 2001, a debate centred on the possible relocation of Grade 1 listedSt Laurence and All Saints Church further away from the side of the main runway. The proposal was dropped after the planning application was rejected by Southend Council in 2003, and a compromise scheme was implemented resulting in the installation of new barriers across Eastwoodbury Lane and requiring slightly shorter licensed runway lengths once safety areas had been added. These changes allowed passenger flights to be restarted, although the runway length still largely curtailed the potential range and payloads for passenger flights, and scheduled airline utilisation was low, until the March 2012 runway extension opened.
Flightline was an airline formed in 1989 headquartered at Southend, where they also had a maintenance/engineering base for their own and third party aircraft. They mainly operated British Aerospace 146 aircraft on ad-hoc charters, and an Avro RJ100 regional jet with which they operated a regular service between Southend and Cologne from 7 June 2006 to 1 December 2008 on behalf of Ford Motor Company as a corporate shuttle. Flightline went into administration on 3 December 2008.
In January 2008, Regional Airports Ltd put the airport up for sale.
Flybe operated a once weekly summer-only service to Jersey using Dash 8 aircraft, ending in 2011.
2008: Stobart Group
Pre-extension terminal building seen from railway station, illustrating proximity.
Interior of terminal building, seen from café by arrivals, and showing check-in area and escalator to departures.
Following council consultation with the local population, a planning application to extend the usable runway length by 300 m (984 ft) to 1,799 m (5,902 ft) and upgrade navigational and lighting aids, was submitted to Southend Borough Council 13 October 2009. Planning permission was granted 20 January 2010.
Initially subject to an Article 14 Direction, after due consideration by the Government this was withdrawn 19 March 2010, meaning it would not be subject to a Public Inquiry. A Section 106 agreement was entered into between the airport and local councils.
On 1 June 2010, Stobart Group took a £100 million loan from M & G Investments, partly in order to fund the airport construction. In July 2010, an application for a judicial review of the planning application was filed, which was dismissed on 2 February 2011. On 23 September 2010, the airport received the Airport Achievement Award 2010/11 from the European Regions Airline Association.
A replacement air traffic control tower became operational 21 March 2011, followed by the return of year-round daily passenger services 27 March 2011 when Aer Arann commenced services to Galway and Waterford in Ireland.
EasyJet announced a ten-year agreement with Stobart Group in June 2011, and in April 2012 commenced around 70 flights per week from Southend, using three Airbus A319 aircraft based at the airport, flying to eight European destinations. Easyjet's operation at the airport has since increased to 16 destinations and in the summer of 2018 they will base a fourth aircraft at Southend, an Airbus A320.
A new on-site rail station opened on 18 July 2011, (the official opening by Minister for Transport Theresa Villiers MP was on 21 September 2011), and a new road opened on 1 September 2011, replacing Eastwoodbury Lane that lay in the path required for the runway extension.
2012: Expansion of passenger flights
A new terminal was built by Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd during 2011 and opened 28 February 2012 (the official opening was by Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Transport, on 5 March 2012). The original terminal has been redeveloped for use by private jets, with Stobart Air having invested half a million pounds turning it into an executive business lounge.
The extended runway opened on 8 March 2012, with Category I ILS on both ends of the runway.
In December 2016, Flybe announced it would be adding new routes from summer 2017 to 12 European destinations, primarily aimed at the weekend break customers. The airline based two Embraer 195 aircraft at the airport.
In October 2017, Flybe added high frequency domestic routes to the airport, with up to 18 flights per week to Manchester, up to 16 flights per week to Dublin and up to 10 flights per week to Glasgow. An additional ATR 72 was based at the airport to operate the Manchester flights, bringing the total number of Flybe aircraft based at Southend to four.
On 28 July 1959, an East Anglian Flying Services Vickers 614 Viking 1 (registered G-AHPH) was written off in a landing accident. On approach the aircraft's right-hand main gear indicator showed that the gear was unsafe. An emergency landing was made on the grass parallel to the runway. The right gear collapsed and the aircraft swung to the right, damaging it beyond repair. None of the 39 occupants were injured.
On 3 June 1971, a Douglas DC-3 of Moormanair (registration: PH-MOA) returned for an emergency landing with one engine partially failed, shortly after departure to the Netherlands carrying supporters of Ajax Football Club. It overran on landing, colliding with an earth bank at the end of the runway and slightly injuring 2 of the 32 passengers on board.
On 4 October 1974, the flight engineer of a DATDouglas DC-6 (registration: OO-VGB) retracted the nose gear during take-off, even though the aircraft was not yet airborne, due to a communication error with the pilots. The aircraft slid along the runway and was damaged beyond repair. Of the 99 passengers on board the flight to Antwerp, one was severely injured and another four received minor injuries from evacuating the aircraft. The six crew members remained uninjured.
On 9 March 1986, a Vickers Viscount (registration: G-BLNB) made a wheels up landing, the landing gear warning horn not having functioned correctly. There were no injuries to the 3 occupants; after repair the aircraft was returned to service.
On 12 September 1987, a Beechcraft 200 (registration: G-WSJE) carrying newspapers crash landed at night into Mac's Garage on the Eastwood Road. The pilot, 33-year-old Hugh Forrester Brown from nearby Canewdon, was thought to have attempted to crash land on the road after take-off, but was unable to and crashed into the uninhabited garage.
On 6 March 1997, a Piper PA-34 Seneca (registration: G-NJML) flying a charter taking aircraft spare parts to Ostend, crashed 3.5 miles to the north-east of the airport whilst attempting to return following the failure of the Gyroscope in the aircraft's Attitude indicator. One of the two occupants was killed, the other seriously injured.
On 19 July 2006, a Cessna 150 (registration: G-BABB) being flown by a student pilot on his second solo flight crashed into a public park 1nm from the airport. The student pilot was fatally injured. 
^"Committee meeting minutes"(PDF). Historic Built Environment Advisory Committee meeting minutes. 20 February 2003. Archived(PDF) from the original on 3 March 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2007. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
^"Southend: Future's bright for our airport" See newspaper Southend Evening Echo, Business News section, 19 December 2003