SOUTHEND Airport will make use of its clear runway to host a huge charity challenge to raise cash for our NHS.

The airport will launch a run and cycle event on Friday, May 29 which will see staff traverse the length of the runway - usually reserved for planes.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic no passenger flights are currently operating.

The challenge will see them travel 290 kilometres - the distance to Amsterdam.

A spokesman for the airport said: “Usually the logistics to arrange such an event would be almost impossible but with many flights grounded a member of the airport team identified the opportunity which couldn’t be missed.

“Thirty members of the airport team have volunteered to run or cycle the length of the runway in stages as they hope to achieve a total of 290 kilometres.

“This is the distance to one of Southend Airport’s most popular destinations - Amsterdam.”

Ryan Lupton, from air traffic control at the airport, said: “Southend Airport has been supporting where possible throughout the pandemic, with flight operations reduced there was an opportunity to use the runway to help raise money for the NHS.”

Social distancing will be maintained throughout by staggering start times and operating the run and cycle as a relay system.

The runway is a total of 3.6 kilometres on a return journey and participants will travel down one side, looping back and returning the opposite side enabling a two-metre distance to be maintained.

The team has set up a Just Giving page for support which has raised more than £150 of its £1,000 target, with all funds going to the NHS.

All donations will be entered into a prize draw with Bear Hugs teddies and a private tour of the control tower up for grabs.

Glyn Jones, chief executive of Stobart Aviation, which runs the airport, said: “We are thrilled to promote another great idea from one of our colleagues.

“This is something we have wanted to do for some time and the current climate offers an ideal opportunity.

“I am extremely proud of our team who are working tirelessly at this time yet are still ready to embrace a new challenge and support the community.” Donate at