Southampton Airport

For the airport in Canada, see Southampton Aerodrome.
Southampton Airport
Airport type Public
Owner AGS Airports
Operator Southampton International Airport Limited
Serves Southampton
Location Eastleigh, Hampshire
Hub for Flybe
Elevation AMSL 44 ft / 13 m
Coordinates 50°57′01″N 001°21′24″W / 50.95028°N 1.35667°W / 50.95028; -1.35667Coordinates: 50°57′01″N 001°21′24″W / 50.95028°N 1.35667°W / 50.95028; -1.35667

Location in Hampshire

Direction Length Surface
m ft
02/20 1,723 5,653 Asphalt
Statistics (2015)
Passengers 1,789,470
Passenger change 14–15 Decrease2.3%
Aircraft movements 39,379
Movements change 14–15 Decrease2.5%
Source: United Kingdom AIP[1]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]

Southampton Airport (IATA: SOU, ICAO: EGHI) is an international airport in the Borough of Eastleigh within Hampshire, England, 3.5 nautical miles (6.5 km; 4.0 mi) north north-east of Southampton.[1]

The airport handled nearly 1.8 million passengers during 2015, a 2.3% fall compared with 2014,[2] making it the 18th busiest airport in the UK. Southampton Airport has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P690) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction. It airport is owned and operated by AGS Airports which also owns and operates Aberdeen and Glasgow Airports. It was previously owned and operated by Heathrow Airport Holdings (formerly known as BAA).[3]


The airport's runway is built over the remains of a Roman villa. It was excavated in May 1925 but the villa had been robbed of much of its material.[4]

The site's connection with aviation can be traced back to 1910 when pioneer pilot Edwin Rowland Moon used the meadows belonging to North Stoneham Farm as a take-off and landing spot for his monoplane, Moonbeam Mk II.[5] In 2010, the airport arranged a series of events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first flight at the airport.[6]

During the First World War, when forces from the United States Navy arrived in 1917, work on the building of hangars began. At the peak of the American presence, some 4,000 officers and men were billeted in tents and huts along the adjacent London to Southampton railway line.

After that war, the site became a transit camp for refugees, mainly Russian, who were anxious to sail to America from the port of Southampton. The shipping companies Cunard and White Star Line (the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company) together with the Canadian Pacific Railway formed the "Atlantic Park Hostel Company" to house them temporarily. In 1921 the hangars were converted into dormitories, kitchens and dining rooms.

The hostel was intended to be a short-term clearing house for those trans-migrants changing ships, but following changes to US immigration law which restricted entry to the United States under national origins quotas, some residents were forced to stay much longer. In 1924 about 980 Ukrainian Jewish would-be emigrants were cared for at the hostel. Some of them were still there seven years later, stranded between the US and UK which would not accept them, and unable to return the countries they had fled. Atlantic Park had a school, library, and synagogue while the refugees formed football teams that played local sides and took part in local events, such as Eastleigh carnival. At the height of its use 20,000 passed through Atlantic Park in 1928 but then figures started to fall away, leading to the closure of the hostel in 1931.

In 1932 Southampton Corporation purchased the site and it became "Southampton Municipal Airport". By 1935 part of the site was being used by the Fleet Air Arm of the RAF and was briefly known as RAF Eastleigh before it became RAF Southampton in 1936. The military site was transferred to Naval command in 1939 and renamed HMS Raven, and subsequently spent most of the war in a ground and air training role for the Royal Navy.[7] It eventually passed back into civilian ownership in April 1946.

During the 1950s a mainstay of business for the airport was the Cross channel car ferry service operated by Silver City Airways using Bristol Freighters and Superfreighters.

In 1959 Southampton (Eastleigh) Airport was purchased by well known racing pilot J.N. 'Nat' Somers who laid the foundation for the successful modern regional airport that exists today by building the concrete runway in 1963, negotiating with British Rail to build the Southampton Airport (Parkway) Rail Station literally on the airport, and also worked with the Department of Transport to plan for the then new M27 Motorway to pass through the airport just south of the runway and north of Ford's Transit van factory at the same time installing the major roundabout outside the airport. This forward thinking programme encouraged most of the airlines at Bournemouth Hurn to move to Southampton in the mid 60's. Nat Somers company sold the airport to Peter de Savary in 1988 who a few years later sold Southampton to the owners of London Heathrow.

Apron at Southampton Airport

In 1936 Supermarine opened a test flight facility on the site, followed shortly thereafter by the opening of the Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft factory on the southern end of the runway. Both companies later closed their Southampton operations, Supermarine moving flying activities to Chilbolton, and the Cunliffe-Owen factory being acquired by Briggs Motor Bodies during 1949 – 1951[8] who were taken over by Ford in 1953. This factory is still in use, although now located off-field due to the opening of the M27 motorway in 1983. The Cierva Autogiro Company rented portions of the Cunliffe-Owen plants starting in 1946, and had to move to another location on the field when it was acquired by Briggs. In 1951 Saunders-Roe (commonly abbreviated Saro) took over the interests of Cierva Autogyro and built a rotor testing building on the eastern side of the airfield, which is now derelict. They continued operations on the field until about 1960.

Southampton airport only has one main ground handler which is Swissport (Servisair), who took over from Aviance. They handle all passenger services and ramp operations for all airlines except for Aurigny Air services who operate their own ground handling,

In October 2014, Heathrow Airport Holdings reached an agreement to sell the airport, together with Glasgow and Aberdeen, to a consortium of Ferrovial and Macquarie Group for £1 billion.[9]

In 2016 the airport won the Airport of the Year award, awarded by European Regional Airlines Association, having demonstrated extraordinary involvement with the local community and reducing its carbon footprint, whilst growing and expanding in a highly competitive market.[10]

First Spitfire test flight

On 5 March 1936 the first test flight of the Supermarine Spitfire took place at the airport, an event commemorated in 2004 by the erection of a near-full size sculpture of K5054, the prototype Spitfire, at the road entrance.

On 5 March 2006 five restored Spitfires took off from Southampton Airport to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the first test flight of the Spitfire. The local council wanted to rename the airport after R. J. Mitchell, designer of the Spitfire. However, the airport owner at the time, Heathrow Airport Holdings, did not agree.[11][12]

Airlines and destinations


The following airlines offer regular scheduled and charter services to and from Southampton:[13]

Aer Lingus Regional
operated by Stobart Air
Aurigny Alderney
Austrian Airlines Seasonal charter: Innsbruck
BMI Regional Munich
Eastern Airways Aberdeen, Leeds/Bradford
Evelop Airlines Seasonal charter: Palma de Mallorca
Flybe Alicante, Amsterdam, Belfast-City, Bergerac, Dublin, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Jersey, La Rochelle, Limoges, Lyon, Málaga, Manchester, Milan–Malpensa, Munich, Nantes, Newcastle, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Paris-Orly, Rennes
Seasonal: Avignon, Bastia, Biarritz, Bordeaux, Brest, Chambéry, Faro, Geneva, Grenoble, Palma de Mallorca, Perpignan, Salzburg, Toulon, Verona
operated by Blue Islands
Guernsey,[14] Jersey[15]
Germania Seasonal charter: Chambery
operated by KLM Cityhopper
Volotea Seasonal: Ibiza (begins 28 May 2017), Palma de Mallorca


Cargo services are available on some passenger flights, including daily cargo services to Guernsey on Blue Islands and to Jersey on Flybe, all of which are handled by OceanAir Express Logistics.


Passenger numbers

Southampton Airport Passenger Totals 2001–2015 (thousands)
Updated: 10 April 2015.[2]
Number of Passengers Aircraft movements Cargo
2001 857,670 48,204 332
2002 789,325 46,767 382
2003 1,218,634 51,423 322
2004 1,530,776 54,484 272
2005 1,835,784 58,045 204
2006 1,912,979 55,786 195
2007 1,965,686 54,183 297
2008 1,945,993 50,689 264
2009 1,789,901 45,502 209
2010 1,733,690 45,350 116
2011 1,762,076 45,700 132
2012 1,694,120 43,284 359
2013 1,722,758 40,501 133
2014 1,831,732 40,374 133
2015 1,789,470 39,379 185
Source: CAA Official Statistics[2]

Busiest routes

Near full-scale model Supermarine Spitfire prototype K5054 at Southampton Airport
Busiest routes to and from Southampton Airport (2014)[2]
Rank Airport Passengers handled
1 United Kingdom – Edinburgh 203,151
2 United Kingdom – Glasgow 173,007
3 JER – Jersey 154,962
4 Republic of Ireland – Dublin 137,798
5 Guernsey – Guernsey 136,000
6 Netherlands – Amsterdam 125,210
7 United Kingdom – Manchester 121,665
8 United Kingdom – Belfast City 106,651
9 United Kingdom – Newcastle 99,501
10 France – Paris Orly 77,539
11 Spain – Alicante 42,821
12 Spain – Malaga 42,352
13 France – Bergerac 34,272
14 France – Nantes 29,708
15 Spain – Palma De Mallorca 24,864

Ground transportation

Southampton Airport is served by a dedicated mainline railway station, Southampton Airport Parkway. On the South Western Main Line from London Waterloo (just 66 minutes away) and Winchester (15 minutes away) and Southampton (City centre is approximately 7 minutes away) to Bournemouth, Poole, Dorchester and Weymouth with a fast and frequent service to those places. The station is conveniently located just a 60-second walk from the terminal (one of the closest airport links across Europe).

Unilink/Bluestar Buses run to Southampton city centre and takes approximately 45min and run every 20 minutes throughout the day; taxis are available outside Arrivals and need to be booked (desk in the Arrivals).[16]

The airport is also located close to the junction between the M3 motorway and M27 motorway, giving easy road access to Southampton, Winchester, Bournemouth, Poole, Portsmouth and places between.

Accidents and incidents


Media related to Southampton Airport at Wikimedia Commons

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