Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for Transport, carried out the official ceremony.

The expansion includes an extended runway and new control tower.

The airport is gearing up for the Olympic Games with 70 EasyJet services starting from Southend next month.

Together with the existing Aer Arann services already operating from Southend, the new terminal and the start of easyJet flights will see passenger numbers reach up to one million over the next year.