SOUTHEND Airport’s expansion is being seen as a “key priority” as it remains on track to reach its full passenger capacity by 2023.

And Glyn Jones, chief executive at Stobart Aviation, is certain that the airport will exceed its aspirations for passenger growth while maintaining the “best service in the industry”.

The proposals, revealed in a Stobart "future growth" presentation, centre on upgrading the runway to take both Boeing 737-800 aircraft and Airbus 321 aircrafts and major upgrades to both the departure and arrival terminals.

As things stand, the current departures terminal is at 90 per cent capacity, with the hope a new terminal would have a capacity of 7 million, which would be matched in the new arrivals terminal.

Setting a “medium term” goal of 20 million passengers per year, Mr Jones said he wants to see the airport maintain its titles as London’s fastest growing airport and - for several years running - the best airport in the capital.

“We end up with a quality of service that is exactly as good as it is now, but with a much bigger airport, and no-one has ever done that. We will do that,” he said in a video released by Proactive Investors.

“We will grow this airport, in the short term, to five million passengers, and then ten million passengers and beyond that while keeping the best service in the industry.”

Passenger numbers increased by 41.8 per cent to 1.2 million in the six months up to August 2019, and plans for major improvements are already being drawn up.

And bosses believe there is no reason why the airport cannot achieve even more in the coming years.

Mr Jones added: “We have the capacity for five or six million passengers in the current terminal infrastructure, and we have plenty of capacity at the airport so that is not an issue.

“Our plan is to increase supply to get the number of number of passengers to match that capacity by 2023.

“That is ambitious and will require us to double where we are now. We have doubled ourselves in the last two years so there is no reason not to be confident about that.

“We aim to take this airport first to five million passengers, then to ten million passengers, and then to get ourselves broadly speaking to the size of Luton Airport, getting near 20 million passengers a year in the medium term.”

The airport will continue to put customer service at the top of the check list as it expects to exceed three million passengers next year, with high quality service “built into the airport’s DNA”.

He said: “How have we achieved that? Really, by offering the very best service that people can get in the industry.

“Your time through security here is a handful of minutes, we get the best customer satisfaction rates everywhere in the airport.

“We have got high quality service in everything we do, it is in our DNA.

“The reason for the growth, fundamentally, is that we offer the best service that we can.”