SOUTHAMPTON Airport is to revive plans to extend its runaway in a move which management claims would double its passenger numbers over the next decade and create 500 new jobs.

Today sees the launch of a six-week public consultation on the airport's new masterplan.

The main feature of the plan is the runway extension – which was part of the last masterplan developed in 2006 but which was grounded by the the economic crash of 2008. Since 2006 the airport had doubled its passenger numbers.

It is proposed to extended the northern end of the runway by 170m which could be accommodated on existing land owned by the airport.

The longer runway would mean existing aircraft using the airport could carry heavier loads and more fuel and so allow them to fly further. This would bring more Mediterranean destinations into reach of Southampton.

Such an extension could also allow larger narrow-body aircraft, such as the Airbus A319/A320 and Boeing 737-800 with 150-190 seats, to use Southampton.

The airport is a key driver of the Hampshire economy and aims to support in excess of 1,500 jobs and contribute £400m to the economy per annum by 2037 compared with £161m at present, says the plan.

It is predicted the airport could serve four million passengers a year by 2027 with that figure rising to five million by 2037.

Due to the increase in passenger numbers, additional check-in desks, security screening and immigration facilities will be needed, say the airport and plan carries artists impression of a an extension to the terminal building.

Extra space will also be needed for fuel storage and car parking.

The plan envisages that there is enough land available at the airport to accommodate the new facilities.

Additional long-stay car parking could be provided in the north-east zone of the airport but the plan also forecast a seven per cent reduction in the number of passengers arriving by car and taxi and increase in the number using public transport from 24 per cent now to 27 per cent by 20207 and 31 per cent by 2037.

Neil Garwood, managing director of Southampton Airport, told the Echo: "I have met with dozens of business leaders, councillors, MPs and hundreds of passengers and the common message was that they wanted the airport to extend its route network."

“There are constraints which we must, together with our local communities, overcome if we are to realise our ambition. Southampton Airport has one of the shortest runways in the UK and is unable to provide the same breadth of European air services that other regional airports can offer. We are therefore keen to address this to allow us to provide an enhanced choice of air services to European destinations for our customers and the region as a whole."

Mr Garwood said that whatever happened with the third runway of Heathrow and possible expansions to Gatwick, more people wanted to fly from their local airport and Southampton had 1.5 million people within 30 minutes of it.

He told the Echo: "Heathrow is a global hub with a global market with flights to places we cannot do. We are never going to offer transatlantic flights but we can offer more routes and more to the European leisure capitals and like Madrid, Rome and Copenhagen and more frequent flights on our existing routes."

He said that if the consultation process went well the final masterplan could be published before the end of the year and planning application for the runway extension could be submitted to Eastleigh Borough Council in 2019.

Mr Garwood stressed that there were no plans to extend the operating times of the airport which would remain 6.30am to 11pm.

Members of the public will have the opportunity to meet with representatives from the airport to discuss the Master Plan in more detail and share their feedback. A series of drop-in sessions will be held as follows:

• Friday, October 5 – Shawford Parish Hall, 4pm-9pm

• Monday, October 8 – Holiday Inn Eastleigh, 4pm-9pm

• Tuesday, October 16 – Bitterne Park School, 4pm-9pm

• Saturday, October 20 – Southampton Airport, 9am -1pm

To view the Southampton Airport Master Plan and find out how to submit your views visit The consultation will close on Tuesday, October 30.

The top 10 destinations for which there is particularly strong demand and which are currently unserved include: Barcelona, Milan, Rome, Stockholm, Frankfurt, Madrid, Berlin, Copenhagen, Venice and Prague which combined have a total passenger demand from the Southampton catchment area of 2 million passengers per annum.