Southampton Airport suspends weekend operations to cope with reduced demand
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The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on many regional airports around the United Kingdom — and Southampton is no exception.
On Tuesday, the regional airport announced that it is suspending all weekend operations.
As of 6 February through 7 March, Southampton Airport will remain closed on Saturdays and Sundays, focusing instead on just its weekday operations.
The move to switch to weekend-only operations “demonstrates the extremely difficult conditions we are currently in,” the airport’s Operations Director Steve Szalay said.
The number of passengers travelling through Southampton Airport (SOU) dropped by 90% during the pandemic. Flybe’s collapse in March 2020 was the largest cause of the drop in passengers, Szalay said, though COVID-19 has “exacerbated” the situation further.
During the week when the airport is open, flights will be just “critical lifeline services,” including those to the Channel Islands.
Last week, the airport launched a public consultation over plans to expand its runway by 164 metres. Airport executives said previously that the livelihood of the airport depends on the extension, which would allow airlines to use larger aircraft, allowing them to transport more passengers on business and leisure routes.
Since last year, a couple of airlines have announced new services to and from Southampton. Most notably, in December 2020, British Airways announced its intentions to launch 11 new routes from SOU to destinations around Europe and the U.K.
Then, in January 2021, Eastern Airways announced its intentions to launch routes from SOU to several holiday destinations in France in April.
But, the combination of the two announcements hasn’t been enough to help Southampton over the finish line yet. As the U.K. remains in its third national lockdown, all non-essential travel is off the table.
In the first lockdown of 2020, London City Airport closed its doors until June. While the airport hasn’t closed in this third lockdown, as of time of publication, the airport’s only arrival and departing flights are with LOT Polish to and from Vilnius.
Featured photo by Blom UK/Getty Images.
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