SOUTHAMPTON Airport has promised residents living under flightpaths in the New Forest that it will tackle any “adverse impacts” from bigger jets as it plans to extend the runway.
Proposals are being drawn up to lengthen the strip by 164 metres to enable larger planes to operate from the international hub in Eastleigh.
Routes to and from the airport fly over the New Forest, including the take-off and landing pathways above Totton, Marchwood and Hythe. The airport has pledged to monitor noise levels.
An exhibition was held last Monday evening at Applemore College in Hythe, attended by Hythe and Dibden Parish Council chair Cllr Malcolm Wade, who played down the likely effects on residents.
He said: “The impact on local people is that we will have more planes overhead. It will not be much more than now, though. It will just be a few flights.
“I appreciate why they want to increase the vibrancy of the airport – it’s local and everybody wants a local airport.”
However, Cllr Wade criticised the airport for a lack of publicity for the exhibition which he said had attracted a “disappointing” number of visitors.
As well as reducing waiting times for customers, the airport says the scheme will create 500 new jobs, bring millions of pounds into the local economy, and reduce the traffic from passengers currently driving to London airports.
Potential new routes include Athens, Warsaw and Copenhagen, with the aim to grow annual passengers from two million to three million.
A spokesperson for the airport said: “The future aircraft that will be landing at Southampton Airport will be a different mix of what we currently see – Airbus 320s, ATR-72s as well as Bombardier Q400s.
“For aircraft with larger capacity, namely the Airbus 320, the extension will give airline companies the opportunity to operate more efficiently by enabling them to land and take off with the maximum number of passengers and cargo onboard.”
The number of aircraft flying in would depend solely on availability of slots within the airport’s flight operating times, he said.
Flight hours are planned to remain at 6.30am-10.30pm Monday-Friday, 6.35am-10.45pm on Saturday, and 7.30am-10.30pm on Sunday. A formal application for the runway will be submitted later to Eastleigh Borough Council.