Agents in the east of England say’s decision to open its first southern base at Stansted will finally give the trade a “look-in” at their local airport where Ryanair has a “stranglehold”.

Agents welcomed the unexpected announcement by the trade-friendly, low-cost carrier and tour operator, traditionally based in northern England, particularly as many had “given up” on using their closest airport.

Jet2, the fourth-largest registered airline in the UK, revealed last week that the airport would become its ninth UK base. Flights will start next spring, but routes have yet to be announced.

Paul Bennett, director of Colchester Travel, which has four branches including one 10 miles from the airport, said: “It’s very positive news to have competition at Stansted, traditionally a Ryanair stranglehold. When Ryanair moved in, it killed everything [trade business] because it’s all direct.

“The trade don’t get a look-in; we gave it up as a local airport. We send most people from Gatwick or Heathrow and rarely use Stansted.” The agency hopes to establish a relationship with Jet2.

East of England Co-op, which has 13 branches across Suffolk and Essex and a new store opening in Ipswich next week, said the move would open up Jet2’s low fares to its customer base.

Sean McLaughlin, head of specialist businesses, said: “With Jet2 coming to Stansted, a popular airport for our customers in East Anglia, we’re looking forward to seeing a growth in sales of Jet2 flights and package holidays.”

Fred Olsen Travel group retail manager Paul Hardwick said: “We tend to sell four and five-star properties, but if we can fly from Stansted and put together our own accommodation and tours, we would definitely work with 
the airline.”

In July, Jet2 revealed Birmingham would become its eighth base, and two weeks ago it launched a recruitment drive for nearly 1,000 staff, including cabin crew, pilots and engineers.

Jet2 has already recruited a new sales executive dedicated to the Stansted area to work with the trade from October. A spokesman said: “Agents should expect, and will receive, the highest level of support from our dedicated team.”

Jet2’s Stansted announcement comes seven weeks after Ryanair said it would cut capacity from the airport following the Brexit referendum vote. Stansted is Ryanair’s biggest UK base.

Philip Meeson, chairman and chief executive of Jet2’s parent company Dart Group, said it saw “great potential” for business out of the east of England and north and east London.