Official opening for Southampton runway extension on 21st September
The first plane has taken off from the newly extended runway at Southampton airport. The extension will allow larger planes, to more destinations, for more passengers. They will largely be people flying abroad on holidays. The runway extension was fiercely opposed, but finally upheld by the Court of Appeal. Construction of the extension began in April 2023. An official opening will take place on September 21st.
Southampton Airport: Runway extension to ‘unlock potential’
16th August 2023
By Maya George @journo_maya (Daily Echo)
The first plane that has taken flight from Southampton Airport’s runway extension marks the ‘unlocking of potential’ in the area, according to Eastleigh’s MP.
An Eastern Airways flight to Paris departed at 6.41am on Tuesday morning, making it the first aircraft to use the extension.
The landmark flight landed in Paris Orly at 8.48am.
Speaking on the flight leaving from the extension, Paul Holmes said: “I have long campaigned to get the extension through and I think it’s fantastic that after the plans being granted, the airport has gone on and done it so quickly.
“The fact that it will be extended will unlock prosperity for the area, will put Southampton on the map, and will provide more jobs.
“It’s fantastic news and will unlock potential for the area that’s been held back for far too long.
“There’s going to be a lot more airlines and destinations coming into Southampton now.
“I genuinely believe up to 2,000 jobs will be created from this, which is a great thing. “
The first flight followed the completion of the long-awaited construction phase of the £17m plans on Tuesday, which will allow larger planes to land at the airport.
Steve Szalay, operations director at Southampton Airport, said: “I am proud to say the programme of works to extend the airport’s runway by 164 meters was completed on time and under budget.
“I would like to thank everyone involved in this project for their hard work and dedication.
“The completion of the runway extension is an important milestone and will ensure Southampton Airport’s vital connectivity continues to deliver social and economic prosperity for the wider region.”
The work at the airport in Eastleigh has been surrounded by controversy.
Plans were eventually approved by Eastleigh Borough Council two years ago after a marathon 36-hour debate.
But protests against the plans did not end there.
Last year, the High Court rejected a legal challenge mounted by members of GOESA – Group Opposed to the Expansion of Southampton Airport.
The case was then taken to the Court of Appeal by protestors, but the court upheld the council’s decision.
Construction of the extension began in April of this year.
Keith House, leader of Eastleigh Borough Council, described the extension as a ‘boost’.
He said: “Southampton International Airport has worked hard to get their short start-up strip installed and up and running.
“Eastleigh Borough Council very much supports the role our airport plays supporting our regional economy.
“Securing the future of the airport and new routes will be a real boost for south Hampshire and beyond.”
An official opening will take place on September 21.