The airport handled nearly two million passengers during 2016, an 8.8% increase compared with 2015, 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. The 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).
The site's connection with aviation began in 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.
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 wished to sail to America from the port of Southampton. 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 United States immigration law which restricted entry 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; 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 numbers 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 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 spent most of the war in a ground and air training role for the Royal Navy. It passed back into civilian ownership in April 1946.
In 1959 Southampton (Eastleigh) Airport was purchased by racing pilot J.N. 'Nat' Somers, who laid the foundation for the regional airport that exists today by building the concrete runway in 1963 and negotiating with British Rail to build Southampton Airport Parkway railway station next to the airport. Somers 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 plant, at the same time installing a major roundabout outside the airport. This forward-thinking programme encouraged most of the airlines at Bournemouth Hurn to move to Southampton in the mid-1960s. Somers' company sold the airport to Peter de Savary in 1988, who a few years later sold it to the owners of London Heathrow.
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 who were taken over by Ford in 1953. The Cierva Autogiro Company rented portions of the Cunliffe-Owen plants from 1946, and had to move to another location on the field when it was acquired by Briggs. In 1951 Saunders-Roe 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 has one main ground handler, 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 2010, the airport arranged a series of events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first flight at the airport.
In October 2014, Heathrow Airport Holdings reached an agreement to sell the airport, together with those at Glasgow and Aberdeen, for £1 billion to AGS Airports, a consortium of Ferrovial and Macquarie Group.
In 2016 the airport won the Airport of the Year award of the 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.
The first test flight of the Supermarine Spitfire took place at the airport on 5 March 1936, 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.
The following airlines offer regular scheduled and charter services to and from Southampton:
|Aer Lingus Regional||Cork|
|easyJet Switzerland||Seasonal: Geneva|
|Flybe||Aberdeen, Alicante, Amsterdam, Belfast-City, Bergerac, Dublin, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Guernsey, Jersey, Leeds/Bradford, Manchester, Nantes, Newcastle, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Rennes
Seasonal: Avignon, Bastia, Biarritz, Bordeaux, Brest, Chambery, Faro, Geneva, La Rochelle, Limoges, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Perpignan, Rodez, Toulon, Verona
Seasonal charter: Chambéry, Menorca (begins 26 May 2018), Skiathos (begins 3 July 2018)
|Volotea||Seasonal charter: Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca|
|Updated: 15 March 2016.|
|Number of Passengers||Aircraft movements||Cargo
|Source: CAA Official Statistics|
2016 / 17
|10||Paris–Charles de Gaulle||63,032||148.3%|
|17||Palma de Mallorca||29,195||29.7%|
Southampton Airport is served by a dedicated mainline railway station, Southampton Airport Parkway. It is on the South Western Main Line from London Waterloo (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 a 60-second walk from the terminal, one of the closest airport links in Europe.
Unilink/Bluestar buses run to Southampton city centre every 20 minutes throughout the day and take approximately 45 minutes; taxis are available outside Arrivals.
Media related to Southampton Airport at Wikimedia Commons