Stobart, the transport group, has agreed to buy London Southend Airport for up to £21m.

Stobart is paying the vendor, Regional Airports, an initial £16m for the Essex airport and could pay a further £5m subject to the ‘achievement of certain aspects of the airport’s development’.

In the year to 31 March 2008, Southend had income of £6.9m, a pro-forma operating profit of £0.8m and gross assets of £42m.

To help finance the purchase Stobart is raising £11.5m from a placing of 15.75m new shares at 73p each.

Stobart will use £10m of the proceeds and a £6m vendor loan note to pay the initial £16m.

Stobart said that the purchase of Southend Airport was in line with its multimodal strategy, air becoming the final component alongside road, rail and sea.

Southend has been included in the Thames Gateway blueprint plan, projected to become one of the UK’s fastest growing development regions, and which includes the new DP World London Gateway Port, opening nearby in 2010.

Stobart intends to implement Southend Airport’s development plans, including the construction of a new railway station, as soon as possible.

Stobart also has an option until January 2009 to buy Carlisle Airport and a planning application in respect of the site was submitted on 14 October.

If planning permission is granted and the option exercised, this will facilitate consolidation of Stobart's haulage activities in the area on to one site.