The runway extension will help deliver improved connectivity and unlock opportunities for business and leisure travel to thrive in the area, while guaranteeing the airport’s viability for the future.
Local business representatives and senior politicians joined Aviation Minister Baroness Vere and Southampton Airport’s leadership team on the airfield on Thursday 21 September to officially mark the opening of the runway extension.
The event marks the end of a project that got underway on 3 April this year to deliver the 164-metre extension to the northern end of Southampton’s runway.
This important £17-million investment will 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.
The airport’s Operations Director Steve Szalay was joined on the airfield by Aviation Minister, Baroness Vere as well as 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.
Guests attending had the chance to get up close to a World War II Spitfire and watch the iconic aircraft take off from the runway extension. While the Spitfire is synonymous with city’s rich aviation history, the runway extension represents an exciting future for Southampton Airport.
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.”
Leigh-Sara Timberlake, Chief Executive at Business South stated: “We are delighted that the runway extension works have now been completed. The airport is a significant asset to the Central South economy to facilitate regional and global connectivity. This is important to ensure the vitality of the region and secure future capital investment in the region from Government.”
Brian Johnson, Chair of Solent Freeport, commented: “Southampton Airport is directly linked to the Navigator Quarter Project and Tax Site, one of the key projects in the Solent Freeport’s plans for helping to grow jobs and the economy across the Solent. The expansion of the runway at the airport provides a fantastic opportunity to not only connect the Solent with more destinations across the globe, but to promote the area as a whole to a new audience of investors and visitors.”
Councillor James Duguid, Cabinet Member for Transport and Economy, stated: “Eastleigh Borough Council has been pleased to work with the airport to achieve a balanced outcome – by which this very important part of the Solent area’s connectivity is enhanced, adding to our prosperity and providing a further incentive for high-skilled, well-paid jobs to gravitate to the area. Balanced because the planning approval process included important mitigations especially on noise abatement, caps on traffic movements and other key areas. We look forward to working with the airport through the ongoing consultative process agreed as part of the planning approval.”
Gordon Parsons, a Senior Managing Director at Macquarie Asset Management, commented: “As a long-term shareholder in AGS Airports, we are proud to have backed this major investment in Southampton Airport’s future. The airport plays a vital role in promoting regional connectivity and this extension ensures it will remain a key contributor to the local economy and community.”
Miguel Rodera, Ferrovial Airports Asset Management Director for AGS, added: “At Ferrovial we are committed to strengthening connectivity while promoting economic development. The expansion advances our shared goal to increase capacity and positively impact the community and the region – it is a proud moment to see this come to fruition, as well as the benefits it will bring for the UK and the sector.”
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