Business leaders from Southampton in the UK are supporting calls to strengthen regional connectivity following a visit from the UK’s Aviation Minister to Southampton Airport.

The visit formed part of the Department for Transport’s Regional Air Connectivity Review, launched in January as part of measures to support regional connectivity across the UK.

“Strengthening regional connectivity is absolutely crucial to enabling growth, developing business links and bringing prosperity to our region,” said Neil Garwood, managing director of Southampton Airport.

“We are pleased that the government is recognising this and urge our local authorities to recognise this, too.”

Adding that the airport has a “vital role” to play in connectivity, he continued, “The city needs to make the right choices about investment, and smart, forward-looking decisions that will enable the region to grow and prosper in a balanced and sustainable way.”

Last year the airport submitted planning application to enable an extension of the runway, which would allow the airport to increase passenger numbers from two to three million per year, increase route choice and destinations. Garwood commented: “With the extension of our runway, the airport and the region will be able to harness the revolution in aviation that will bring cleaner, greener and quieter travel – benefiting regional airports to a far greater degree than the larger hub airports.”

“We want the city to grow, develop and prosper,” he said, warning however “there is an alternative future without the runway extension where we don’t see growth and the city becomes disconnected.”

“Now is the time for us all to come together and support each other to secure the investment and growth needed to provide a prosperous future for this fantastic city.  As we look ahead to our City of Culture bid, let’s ensure our city is well and truly open for business,” he continued.

Local businesses expressed support for the airport, including: Exxon Mobil Fawley; Associated British Ports, Carnival UK; Ordnance Survey; The Ageas Bowl (RB Sport & Leisure Holdings); Meachers Global; DP World Southampton; Solent Stevedores; Savills; Barker-Mill Estates.

Gary Whittle, Commercial Director of Meachers Global Logistics, an independent freight and transport logistics provider, said: “The connectivity Southampton Airport provides is vital for us to continue to attract and service customers throughout Europe and beyond.”

Whittle said flying from Southampton reduces time, money and emissions for the company over travelling to and from London airports, adding: “Moreover, the additional routes that will be made possible through the expansion of the airport will play an important role in our own future growth and success, and the success of many other businesses in the Solent region.”

Eastleigh MP, Paul Homes shared his support for the airport’s growth plans, calling regional connectivity a “vital lever to future prosperity”.

The airport is soon to gain a new regional connection from Eastern Airways which has announced a direct route connecting Southampton Airport with Teesside International Airport.

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