SOUTHAMPTON Airport has announced plans to extend its runaway in a move which management claims would double its passenger numbers over the next decade and create 500 new jobs.

The main feature of the plan is the runway extension – which was part of the last masterplan developed in 2006 but which was grounded by the the economic crash of 2008. Since 2006 the airport had doubled its passenger numbers.

It is proposed to extend the northern end of the runway by 170m which could be accommodated on existing land owned by the airport.

The longer runway would mean existing aircraft using the airport could carry heavier loads and more fuel and so allow them to fly further. This would bring more Mediterranean destinations into reach of Southampton.

Such an extension could also allow larger narrow-body aircraft, such as the Airbus A319/A320 and Boeing 737-800 with 150-190 seats, to use Southampton.

It is predicted the airport could serve four million passengers a year by 2027 with that figure rising to five million by 2037.

The airport said due to the increase in passenger numbers, additional check-in desks, security screening and immigration facilities will be needed.

Extra space will also be needed for fuel storage and car parking.

The plan envisages that there is enough land available at the airport to accommodate the new facilities.

Additional long-stay car parking could be provided in the north-east zone of the airport but the plan also forecast a seven per cent reduction in the number of passengers arriving by car and taxi and increase in the number using public transport from 24 per cent now to 27 per cent by 20207 and 31 per cent by 2037.