A HAMPSHIRE MP is calling on the government to outline further financial lifelines for the aviation industry.

Southampton Airport generates £161 million per year for the city, Eastleigh and the surrounding area, according to figures published by trade union Unite.

The union says it employs about 200 workers directly with a further 950 workers based on its campus.

However, the regional airport has been hit hard in recent months – first by the collapse of flight operator Flybe and then by the coronavirus pandemic meaning flights have been grounded.

Eastleigh MP Paul Holmes said: “The unions are right to highlight that Southampton Airport is an important economic hub, which employs thousands of people and attracts millions of pounds into our local area.

“I have been a constant champion for Southampton Airport throughout the problems with Flybe and now as we look to secure the airport’s future post Covid-19.

“This is a topic I raised with the Aviation Minister on a call just two weeks ago and I am calling for the Government to outline further financial assistance quickly.”

Unite – the UK’s largest trade union – previously warned that a “huge economic hole” will hit Southampton if the government doesn’t step in to help.

Southampton Airport Managing Director Neil Garwood said: “We absolutely agree with Unite on the scale of the importance of the airport to the local economy, and the way to guarantee the airport’s survival is to fulfil our long-held plans to extend our runway and provide national and international connectivity for the region.

“This will be a strong lever in the recovery to economic prosperity for the region and is vital for the recovery of trade and tourism.

“A thriving regional airport is fundamental to that and extending the runway is essential to make that happen.”

A Government spokesperson said: “The aviation sector is important to the UK economy, and will be able to draw upon the unprecedented package of measures announced by the Chancellor, including a Bank of England scheme for firms to raise capital, Time to Pay flexibilities with tax bills, financial support for employees and VAT deferrals.

“We are continuing to work closely with the sector and are willing to consider the situation of individual firms, so long as all other government schemes have been explored and all commercial options exhausted, including raising capital from existing investors.”