Dorset airport faces more competition

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Bournemouth Airport faces more competition after legal ruling on Southampton runway
Bournemouth Airport faces more competition after legal ruling on Southampton runway

BOURNEMOUTH Airport looks set to face new competition after a court ruling gave the go-ahead for the expansion of the runway at rival Southampton.

Southampton Airport has the easy motorway and rail access which Bournemouth lacks but has been held back from welcoming larger planes because of its shorter airstrip.

Plans to extend Southampton's runway were approved by Eastleigh Borough Council after 19 hours of debate last year but were then subject to legal challenge.

Residents' group GOESA Ltd (Members of Group Opposed to the Expansion of Southampton Airport) had sought a judicial review into whether the council's decision was flawed. But a High Court judge found against the group.

Bournemouth Airport had brought its own unsuccessful challenge to the council's decision earlier.

In a letter objecting to the original application, managing director Steve Gill had said the applicant's analysis had not taken Bournemouth's capacity into account.

It had not considered the likelihood that jobs and investment would be displaced, he argued, and there was therefore an "inability properly to assess any net benefits of the proposal".

He said the planning application was "almost entirely silent in terms of any acknowledgement of the presence of Bournemouth Airport" and "important questions remain unanswered".

Bournemouth is offering flights to 36 destinations this summer after airlines brought back routes after Covid restrictions were lifted.

Bournemouth Airport did not comment on the latest decision over the Southampton runway.

However, speaking last December, Mr Gill said he was not worried by the prospect of more competition from Southampton.

"It's not a threat in my view as we operate in quite different markets and have very different operational capabilities. There's no guarantee that their proposal will ever be built because the planning appeal is going to a judicial review," he said then.

"We will play to our strengths and Southampton will play to theirs and hopefully there's room to grow for all operators."

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