AIR passengers from France and the Channel Islands are set for cut price rail tickets to London - with discounts of up to £50 compared to local residents.
A peak return to London from Southampton Airport (Parkway) currently costs £77.60, but the new scheme mean travellers from Jersey, Guernsey and France will pay just £30.
The scheme can be revealed a day after the Daily Echo reported plans are in the pipeline to extend the terminal’s runway by 150m.
That would mean flights will be available to new destinations like Greece, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.
Airport bosses say that would create up to 1,000 new jobs and boost the local economy by £50m a year.
But moves to increase passenger numbers to 2.5 million a year are already under way at the airport with a so-called “London Link” scheme.
It means air passengers from the Channel Islands and France have the option of buying cheap return rail tickets for just £30 from Southampton to the capital as part of an all-inclusive package.
Meanwhile normal Hampshire rail passengers travelling at peak commuter times must pay nearly £50 more, at £77.60 for a return from Parkway Station.
Despite marketing the airport’s one-hour rail links with Waterloo station, bosses insist they have no intention of adding “London” to the terminal’s name – unlike airports at Oxford, Luton, Stansted, Southend and Gatwick.
The airport, just minutes from Parkway train station, teamed up with South West Trains as well as flight operators FlyBe and Blue Island to offer the deal which has proved an early hit.
Explaining London Link, airport managing director David Lees told the Daily Echo: “A number of other airports call themselves ‘London’. We are not going to do that.
“However, due to the proximity of Southampton Airport Parkway train station and the high frequency of trains, you can get to London very quickly.
“The popularity of London Link is increasing significantly.”
Southampton Airport Parkway train station is right next to the terminal and passengers have a choice of 50 trains a day with a journey time of just over an hour.
Airport bosses believe it makes them a “great alternative” to Gatwick.
The rail users campaign group Passenger Focus has praised the deal, but hit out at existing peak time prices.
Acting chief executive, David Sidebottom, said: “£30 is a great deal for air passengers arriving at Southampton Airport to get into the capital, but it doesn’t alter the fact that £77.60 for an Anytime return for other passengers is a lot of money.”
Chief executive of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, Stewart Dunn, said he had “sympathy”
for train passengers forced to pay full prices – but added: “We have got to be open for business and have incentives for people to come and use our services.”
South West Trains defended the ticket deal with the airport.
Aspokesman said: “As with any mode of transport, there are different levels of pricing which take into account whether the passenger has booked in advance and any special offers available."