Budget airline easyJet has launched its Newquay to Southend route.
Flown by Liskeard-born pilot Richard Andrews, the first flight touched down at 8.20am yesterday and was saluted by water cannons as it taxied towards the terminal building.
The Luton-based carrier will also launch flights to Liverpool from July 4 in a welcome boost to Newquay, which has felt the loss of both Ryanair and Air Southwest in the last two years.
Each of the new routes will run three times a week and will operate until September – although easyJet has indicated that it is keen to increase this to a year-round service with the possibility of more routes from Newquay in the future.
The airline will fly Airbus A319 planes on both routes, which have a capacity of 156 passengers, with each flight taking around an hour.
Jane Young, from Newquay, and daughter Katy, were two of the first passengers to board the return flight to Southend.
Mrs Young said the new service made it much easier to visit family in Welwyn Garden City, in Hertfordshire.
She said: "We're on our way to my nephew's wedding and this flight makes it much easier for us. It's very important that the airport stays open and people support it. It's definitely needed here and the planes always seem to be full."
Last month, Flybe announced that it would be pulling out of its Newquay/ Gatwick route from March 2014 after selling its departure and landing slots at Gatwick to easyJet in a £25 million deal.
Business and tourism leaders have expressed a hope that easyJet could resurrect the Gatwick service – although the airline has so far remained tight-lipped about any move.
Ali Gayward, commercial manager for easyJet, said: "Today marks our first flight to Newquay Cornwall Airport and an exciting new step for easyJet. It is great to add a new UK destination to our network and we hope Newquay will prove extremely popular with holidaymakers from London Southend and Liverpool this summer."
Al Titterington, managing director at Newquay Cornwall Airport, added: "Today's inaugural flight from London Southend with easyJet is an exciting time for Newquay Cornwall Airport. For us to be operating flights with the UK largest airline is a positive step and we are confident there will be strong demand for this service from travellers to Cornwall."
Malcolm Bell, head of tourist board Visit Cornwall, said: "Cornwall is regularly voted the UK's top holiday destination and we know there are many potential customers from London and Liverpool that would love fast, easy and affordable access to Cornwall. We welcome the routes and are looking forward to working closely with easyJet to establish these exciting, new connections."