Southampton Airport has finally completed and opened its £17 million runway extension after eight years of planing, consultation, legal challenges and construction.
On the face of it, this was not a major piece of construction. It involved adding 164 metres to the existing runway, a distance you could walk in literally two to three minutes, and was built entirely inside the existing airport perimeter.
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 previously have struggled to take off when fully loaded.
Larger aircraft means more passengers, especially as the airport will now become attractive to the likes of easyJet, Ryanair, Jet2 etc. To date, traffic primarily consisted of smaller Embraer jets and turboprops. easyJet already has routes from Southampton to Belfast, Glasgow and Geneva lined up for the autumn.
The use of larger aircraft was the real cause of the strong opposition to the extension, especially as it also involved the creation of 600 new car parking spaces for the expected uptick in passengers.