Which way to London? Southend Airport, 80km from the city, has been designated as a London airport by the International Air Transport Association.

Which way to London? Southend Airport, 80km from the city, has been designated as a London airport by the International Air Transport Association. Photo: Reuters

The naming of London Southend Airport has been labelled misleading by bosses at rival hub London City.

Last week the International Air Transport Association classified Southend – which lies more than 80 kilometres from the centre of the capital – as a London airport for the first time.

Britain's Civil Aviation Authority had previously referred to Southend as a London airport, but now it will be known as London Southend to all overseas visitors.

But Matthew Hall, London City's chief commercial officer, said the decision would irritate visitors.

"Giving the 'London' designation to an airport which is nearly an hour away by train is faintly ridiculous and extremely misleading," he told the travel industry magazine Travel Trade Gazette. "You have to feel for the visitor who expects to land in London and ends up in a field on the east coast.

He added that London Luton (which more than 50km from the capital), London Stansted (64km), and London Oxford (90km) were also "bizarre naming decisions".

"Why this particular affliction has been allowed to spread within the airport sector is baffling," said Mr Hall.

EasyJet launched services from the Essex airport to Barcelona, Amsterdam and Belfast in April. It has since added flights to Alicante, Faro, Ibiza, Malaga, Majorca and Jersey. Aer Arann flies from the airport to Waterford and Dublin.

During the 1960s, Southend was Britain's third busiest airport, behind Heathrow and Manchester. At its height it flew nearly 700,000 passengers each year to destinations including Paris, Ostende, Rotterdam and the Channel Islands, but competition from cross-Channel ferry services and the growth of Stansted and Luton airports saw it fall into rapid decline.

The seeds of its revival were sown in 2008, when it was bought by the Stobart Group, which has invested more than £100 million ($A148 million) in regeneration. Managing director Alastair Welch said having London in its name would help the airport continue to expand.

Other airports have been criticised in the past for lying so far from their apparent location. Munich West Airport, for example, is found nearly 70 miles west of the German city, Oslo-Torp airport is actually 120km from the Norwegian capital, while Barcelona Girona airport – favoured by Ryanair – is 105km from Barcelona.

- The Telegraph, London