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Southampton; A Popular And Rapidly Expanding Airport

Aug 9, 2008
As one of the smaller airports in the UK, Southampton serves an important role in the nation's transportation network whilst servicing the needs of passengers in the south of England. As with most airports the terminal has a host of auxiliary services such as shops, cafes, and car hire desks. These services, as well as the airport itself provide vital employment in the local area. Even though it is a small airport, the site handles around two million passenger movements annually.

As with all of the public airports in the UK, Southampton has had to lay out its expansions plans for the next three decades. The government has put in place the legislation in order to understand the levels of air travel that will be present in the country in the future. The legislation also shows that the government were keen to understand how airports would employ local areas over the next thirty years.

Even though the airport is small in stature, Southampton is amazingly popular with travellers in the UK. This popularity has even been confirmed by official awards from the European Regions Airline Association, Southampton winning airport of the year last year. As well as official bodies giving their approval to this plucky contender, the public have secured this popularity in a Daily Telegraph survey. The results of this survey found that the airport was voted the world's third most popular; the highest ranking airport within the UK.

Airport chiefs are keen to keep these large levels of customer satisfaction while they continue to build upon past success. Part of this expansion is bound to include an increasing of the accompanying services such as shops, restaurants and car hire desks; naturally this will also include an expansion of the terminal. All of these efforts are being put in place to increase passenger numbers and hence profits. Ultimately the airport is hoping to achieve around six million passengers annually in 2030.

As well as attempting to keep the customer focus of the airport, the site is not looking to expand past its current boundaries. This realistic planning is refreshing in the aviation industry where seemingly all airports are trying to secure planning for a second or even third runway. They do however want a larger terminal filled with services like car hire desks, shops, restaurants and cafes. Ultimately Southampton airport faces a difficult challenge, to remain popular with passengers as a small and likeable service, and to expand enough to keep up with changes in the world of air travel.

Naturally any expansion will have an effect on the local residents and environment. Southampton however have once again bucked the trend and been sympathetic to both. The expansion plans make no provisions for night flights meaning residents will not be kept up all night, and noise pollution control measures are being investigated to minimise the impact of day time flights. Predominantly the airport will keep the types of aircraft flying in small and quiet to accommodate local residents and wildlife as much as possible.

In contrast however the site is hoping to improve its road links. This will allow both hire and private car owners to make the transition from road to air that much easier. The connection is set to link the site directly to the M27 so that congestion will be eased on the current roads and especially in Southampton city centre. With a focus on public transport however the airport is keen to tout its green credentials to work towards lower carbon emissions countrywide.

Unlike most of the master plans released by UK airports, Southampton's is surprisingly sympathetic to the environment and local residents. Hopefully by following a path that includes increasing employment through channels such as car hire companies and retailers and keeping a keen customer focussed edge, Southampton should remain a small, but welcoming airport in the air travel network.
About the Author
Air travel expert Thomas Pretty looks at how car hire Southampton airport services are vital to expansion plans.
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