Southend airport moved into profit in the half year to August on the back of a more than 40% rise in passengers.

Discussions are taking place with various airlines about starting new services from the Essex airport which is due to have a terminal extension completed by January.

Parent company, the transportation and distribution firm Stobart Group, saw pre-tax profit at the division which covers the airport come in at £100,000 against a loss of £300,000 in the same period last year. This came as revenue rose from £7.9 million to £10.4 million.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and internal rent (EBITDAR) is a key measure for Southend airport and was £700,000 for the period, against £200,000 a year earlier, Stobart said.

Passenger numbers rose by 43% to 528,000 as easyJet based a fourth Airbus 319 at the airport to increase the number of destinations served.

“Passenger load factors were particularly strong in July and August although movements have been lower than expected.” Stobart said. “In addition, passenger numbers have been steadily improving on the Aer Lingus Dublin route.”

An extension to the terminal building is set to open in the new year, including with a new security layout, new arrivals hall, additional check-in desks, additional gates and retail and commercial space.

“Discussions are being held with a number of European-based airlines with a view to commencing services in winter 2013 and beyond,” Stobart revealed.

“Discussions will start in earnest when the asset construction is complete and prospective new airline customers are able to see all of the airport’s facilities in operation.

“With a capacity of more than five million passengers a year, Southend airport has potential to create significant value for shareholders and our focus is on achieving that potential.

“Performance of airports is seasonal with winter volumes expected to be lower than summer but we expect to complete the year at London Southend Airport with the level of passenger numbers where we are profitable in EBITDA terms.”