Southampton Airport has been busy, with the airport officially opening its runway extension.
The runway is now extended by 164 metres. This now makes the runway 1887 meters long, with the works commended in April 2024, for a rapid conclusion and its official opening on the 21st of September.
The works which are valued at £ 17 million are to allow the airport to attract more airlines than was previously possible due to the runway’s original length and help deliver new routes and services for the people of Southampton and the wider region, allowing for greater connectivity for both business and leisure travel, whilst increasing the viability of the airport.
The airport’s Operations Director Steve Szalay was joined on the airfield by Aviation Minister, Baroness Vere, and local politicians, including MPs Paul Holmes, Caroline Noakes, Royston Smith, Alan Whitehead and Steve Brine. Local members, Councillor James Duguid, Cabinet Member for Transport at Eastleigh Borough Council and Councillor Eamonn Keogh, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport at Southampton City Council, also attended to mark the official opening.
Steve Szalay said:
“We would like to thank everyone who has supported Southampton Airport’s runway extension over the last few years, from members of the public to the local business community. The extension is a critical part of our future and will help enhance the region’s connectivity, safeguard the airport’s future and help deliver social and economic benefits to Eastleigh, Southampton and the wider region.”
Aviation Minister Baroness Vere said:
“The aviation sector plays a key role in not only keeping the four nations of our union connected but also delivering jobs and economic growth right across the country.
“That’s why regional airports, like Southampton, are so vital to supporting the Government’s effort to help create economic opportunities. It’s great to see today’s new runway extension, which will help deliver 2,000 new jobs and open the city up to even more international routes.”
Paul Holmes, MP for Eastleigh commented:
“It was great to help officially open the runway extension today. I have been passionate about seeing this important development through since I was elected, and I am pleased to see it complete. The works will secure 2,000 jobs and cement Southampton Airport’s status as a viable regional alternative to the main airports in and around London and will undoubtedly help to regenerate the town of Eastleigh.”
Southampton Airport was home to Flybe’s incarnations in the past, with it at one point making up 95% of its total traffic. As you can guess, with the collapse of that airline, others have raced in to assist and provide connectivity.
- Aer Lingus Regional (Belfast City and Dublin)
- Aurigny – Alderney, Guernsey
- Blue Islands – Guernsey, Jersey
- BA Cityflyer – seasonal services to Alicante, Bergerac, Chambéry, Dublin, Edinburgh, Faro, Limoges, Málaga, Palma de Mallorca
- Eastern Airways – Paris-Orly
- easyJet – Belfast International and Glasgow, Seasonal to Geneva
- KLM CityHopper – Amsterdam
- Loganair – Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle upon Tyne, Stornoway
As you can see, Southampton Airport traffic is primarily regional-style aircraft (ATR Turboprops and Embraer jet aircraft). With the extra runway length, it should be able to attract further jet traffic, to allow larger aircraft (such as the Airbus A319 or Boeing 737-800), that can serve a larger destination pool. To date, the largest aircraft to visit Southampton Airport was a Boeing 757, carrying US Presidential traffic.
Beyond the runway works
Southampton Airport connectivity helps it, with a railway station and motorway next door to the airport, allowing easy connectivity from the south of England, as well as easy access to the Port of Southhampton.
Of course, there are larger airports not that far away – with Gatwick and Heathrow Airports not that far away (77 and 60 miles away respectively).
The airport will continue to have challenges, however, with restricted operating hours too.
With the runway extension, it opened the possibility for services which can carry more passengers and allow larger aircraft to operate from the airport. So far, easyJet appears to be the first to see if there is enough traffic to hoover up.
We’ll have to see if greater demands come from other airlines if they wish to launch services.
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