Essex

Easyjet to sponsor 2012 Southend Air Festival

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Media captionSouthend Borough Council hopes May's festival will be more spectacular than ever

Low-cost airline Easyjet has announced it will become the lead sponsor of an Essex air show.

The operator will give its backing to the Southend Air Festival, one of the largest free air shows in the UK, which takes place on 26-27 May.

In April the company will begin flying routes from the town's airport.

The Southend Borough Council-run air show, which is held along the seafront, has been without a title sponsor in recent years.

It has not been revealed how much the deal is worth to the council, but the event will be promoted through the airline's in-flight magazines.

'Big difference'

Last year the 27-year-old event switched from being run on a Saturday-Sunday from its traditional Sunday-Bank Holiday dates for budget reasons.

Councillor Derek Jarvis said the deal would make a "big, big difference" to the event.

"Their in-flight magazines are read by millions of passengers, which means they'll be much more awareness of our air show," he said.

"It's the first air show of the season, so it always sets the trend for other shows during the year."

Easyjet's UK commercial manager, Hugh Aitken, said: "It's part of our programme of telling people about Southend and what we have to offer here."

Last year the air show attracted about 250,000 spectators on both days.

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