Council approves Southampton Airport runway extension

Apr 12, 2021

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Eastleigh Borough Council has agreed to controversial plans to extend the runway at Southampton Airport.

The 164-meter extension would allow for longer-haul flights to the airport and will allow the airport to grow its passenger numbers, according to the BBC.

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According to airport management, this extension is a lifeline in saving the airport from going under in the near future.

From a travellers point of view, this could be great news. After the Flybe collapse in March 2020, Southampton lost most of its routes. With a longer runway, the airport will become more attractive to airlines not currently serving the airport. This increases the chance of old routes being reinstated with a new airline, as well as new routes added. The airport indicated in presentations that destinations in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean would be within reach after completion.

Related: Britons can start thinking about summer holidays abroad as Global Travel Taskforce outlines UK return to travel

In the past, Southampton had mainly been served using turboprop aircraft like the ATR-72 and smaller Embraer regional jets. With the runway extension, Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 aircraft should be able to serve the airport without major restrictions to load and fuel capacity. Currently, the largest plane ever to have touched down at Southampton Airport is Donald Trump’s Boeing 757 during the 75th anniversary of D-Day in 2019.

Southampton used to be mainly served by Flybe (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)

The decision to approve the extension was made after a 19-hour digital debate, spread out over three days, with 22 in favour, 13 against and one abstention. A local opposition group is unhappy with the decision and has announced it will consider options for future action, citing pollution and noise concerns.

Both British Airways and Eastern Airways have recently announced increased service to the airport this year. In December 2020, BA announced it will launch service on 11 news routes for the summer 2021 season. Eastern announced that it will launch new services from Southampton to two leisure destinations in France beginning in April.

Related: Southampton Airport suspends weekend operations to cope with reduced demand

Southampton isn’t the only U.K. airport to be expanding, despite the pandemic. In March, the local council announced that Cornwall’s Newquay Airport would be receiving £7.8 million in funding for upgrades ahead of this summer’s G7 summit.

Featured image by David Goddard/Getty Images

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