Southampton to take on London airports

In a bid to become the ‘airport of choice’ for travellers in the south of England, Southampton Airport has launched a campaign to snatch customers away from Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, and the other airports in and around London.

Southampton, the smallest of the British Airport Authority’s six airports, offers flights to 50 destinations, including routes to ‘sun and sea’ spots, such as Palma on Mallorca, and Faro in Portugal. The hub is well known for its services to France and the Channel Islands, including the remote Isles of Scilly, and the winter sports haven, Chambery.

The ‘It’s My Airport…’ scheme, which began earlier this month, will attempt to convince people from Basingstoke, Guildford, Aldershot, and other cities in the M3 corridor, that flying from Southampton Airport is a “viable alternative” to travelling to London. “Heading south can often be a much quicker door-to-door experience”, explained Jan Halliday, marketing boss at the Hampshire hub.

A press release on the airport’s website notes that Southampton is within a minute’s walk of the nearest train station, allowing passengers to leave the car at home, and avoid the often-high fees charged by airport parking firms.

Whether local flyers will be swayed by Southampton’s newfound confidence is debatable, given that low-cost carrier, Flybe, operates more than half of the routes offered by the airport. The carrier’s popularity in the UK is not in doubt, but Flybe nonetheless offers some routes at more than twice the price of easyJet at the London airports. Departing June 2 2011, Flybe routes from Southampton to Faro, for example, cost just over £100 each way, compared to £55 with easyJet from Gatwick. The promise of “less stress” and convenience suddenly seems like a consolation, rather than a bonus.

‘It’s My Airport…’ will be advertised on four radio stations in the southeast until late autumn, including Eagle FM and Reading 107 FM. The campaign has also been given its own mini-website, which presents the user with a list of Southampton’s credentials, before yielding to the airport’s homepage.

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