SOUTHAMPTON’S airport is preparing for the big summer getaway as package holidays to sun-drenched countries are launched this weekend.

Top operators such as Thomson, First Choice and Thomas Cook have all kick-started their summer deals with passengers able to fly from Southampton Airport.

But city passengers are not waiting until the summer holidays, as the airport reveals that half-term will be the biggest escape, with about 56,000 people expected to pass through the airport during the last week of May.

The top sunny spots this year include Majorca, the Algarve, Lake Garda and the Costa Blanca, all of which can be reached by flying out of Southampton.

Flybe also has flights from Southampton to Nice, a gateway to the French Riviera.

Those preferring the DIY approach can book flights with Flybe to Palma, Faro, Alicante, Verona and Malaga.

Jan Halliday, from Southampton Airport, said: “The summer season is always an exciting time for us, when the airport really comes alive with happy holiday-makers and enthusiastic families.

“There are a range of great holiday options when flying from Southampton Airport – from city breaks and family resorts to spa retreats and stag and hen hotspots.”