Ryanair is opening a new base at Southend Airport with almost 60 flights a week departing for top European destinations.
The low-cost carrier will base three aircraft at the Essex airport, with flights to 13 destinations in eight countries.
Popular services will include flights to the likes of Barcelona, Corfu, Milan and Venice.
The move could be seen as an attempt to cover off easyJet’s presence at the airport.
Passengers could benefit if a price war develops between the two budget carriers, with four popular routes – Alicante, Faro, Malaga and Palma – operated by both.
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Ryanair has also just changed its check in rules, with the window halved from four day to just 48 hours.
Passengers can extend this, though, by paying to reserve their seat ahead of the flight.
Other recent changes include passengers being restricted to just one item of hand luggage, unless they purchase Priority Boarding.
The price has been quietly increased on several routes over the past few weeks.
As for Southend Airport, the move should prove a major boost in its plans to increase passenger numbers from 1.1million in 2017 to its goal of five million by 2020.
If successful, Southend Airport could see its popularity exceed that of London City Airport in the capital’s Docklands areas.