After a reported 19 hour council meeting last week, Southampton Airport has finally won approval for its runway extension.
On the face of it, this is not a major piece of construction. It involves adding 164 metres to the existing runway, a distance you could walk in literally two to three minutes.
The key is what the extra 164 metres will allow. It will give the airport the capacity to handle traditional short-haul aircraft such as the Airbus A320 or Boeing 737, which would currently struggle to take off when fully loaded.
Larger aircraft means more passengers, especially as the airport would become attractive to the likes of easyJet, Ryanair, Jet2 etc. At present, traffic primarily consists of smaller Embraer jets and turboprops. This was the real cause of the strong opposition to the extension, especially as it also involves the creation of 600 new car parking spaces.
There is no published timetable for the opening, although the original plans said that it could be open within 15 months of permission being granted.
British Airways is still planning to operate a series of weekend services from Southampton Airport this Summer – see here. The start date has been pushed back but the flights are still scheduled.