The potential buyers will submit more detailed bids
Seven potential buyers for Southend Airport in Essex have been shortlisted from 50 applications.
Its owner, Regional Airports Limited (RAL), announced the sale earlier this year saying it was looking for someone who could help expand the site.
There are proposals for a new terminal, railway station and runway extension.
The seven shortlisted buyers will now progress to the second round of the sale with site visits before they submit more detailed bids.
Alastair Welch, managing director of London Southend Airport, said: "I am very excited about the quality of companies who have taken an interest in the airport and its operations.
"I am sure that we will be able to pick the company to support the development of the airport to ensure it becomes the class facility local people want."
Andrew Walters, RAL chief executive, added: "Potential buyers clearly share our view that Southend Airport represents an outstanding opportunity to acquire an airport within 50 minutes of central London and with significant potential to deliver an exceptional regional airport."