AN EXPANSION of Southampton Airport has been backed by the public, as the results of a six-week consultation have been released.

More than 60 per cent of those who gave their views agreed that the airport needed to grow, with a runway extension and terminal expansion tabled as part of its draft master plan.

Aviation facilities are also proposed to be upgraded.

Now the results of the consultation, which closed on October 30, detail that of the 396 respondents, 246 (62%) were positive, with 150 (38%) negative replies received.

Key themes raised by the public included increased opportunity, greater choice of routes, increased job prospects, ease of travel, environment, transport infrastructure and noise issues.

Neil Garwood, managing director of Southampton Airport, said: “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.

“It is truly encouraging to see so many people engage with us and back our vision for growth which will give such benefit to our regional economy.

“During the consultation we also held live chats on social media and four drop-in sessions at venues across our communities to ensure we were able to discuss the plans openly with as many people as possible.

“We have received a lot of positive comments especially supportive of increasing choice of destinations and improved global connectivity.”

The draft master plan, which was released earlier this year, details how the airport plans to grow over the next 20 years.

It includes passenger number forecasts and infrastructure requirements to meet the growing demand for air travel to and from the city.

Airport chiefs say it is a “key driver” of the Hampshire economy and claims it will aim to support more than 1,500 jobs and contribute £400 million to the economy, per year, by 2037. The plan also details the way in which Southampton Airport plans to grow in a “responsible and sustainable manner”.

Mr Garwood added: “We are fully committed to growing the airport responsibly and we are carefully considering all comments as we progress on to preparing the final version of the Master Plan. We will continue to broaden our engagement with key stakeholders such as parish councils as the planning stage progresses.

“We believe we can make a positive long-term contribution to our employees, investors, business partners, the communities in which we operate, and are developing our Corporate Social Responsibility strategy to ensure that is sustainable over the next 20 years and beyond.

“Growth will enable us to offer that extra choice. It is a really exciting time for Southampton Airport.”

The final version of the master plan is set to be published by the end of the year, with planning application due to be submitted next spring.