AN AIR service between Southampton and Munich has been suspended and one Hampshire passenger found about it before the airport or the aircrew.

BMI announced yesterday that flights between Southampton and the Bavarian capital were being temporarily halted from March 25, for "training and recruitment".

A spokesman for Southampton Airport confirmed that they had been informed of the suspension on Wednesday by BMI.

However, one Echo reader had already been told about the suspension of the service last week.

Andrew Crossley, a teacher who commutes weekly between his family home in Munich and his job in Eastleigh, became alarmed when he was unable book BMI flights to Munich on line beyond the end of March.

The 56-year-old, who teaches at Cherbourg Primary, contacted Southampton Airport and BMI in the UK neither of which could offer an explanation

Mr Crossley, who flies home to his wife in Munich most Fridays, then contacted BMI in Germany who told him his flights were being suspended.

"When I spoke to the flight attendants and the ground crew they were just as surprised as me," said Mr Crossley.

He was angry that the service had been halted at such short notice leaving many travellers in the lurch.

"There are probably other people like me who have really struggled to find a flight for Easter," he said.

Mr Crossley said Friday and Sunday flights which he took were usually at least three-quarters full and the service was popular with engineers from BMW, based in Munich, travelling to its subsidiary Rolls Royce at Chichester.

BMI's public relations company sent the Echo the following statement: "bmi regrets to confirm that it is suspending its flights between Munich and Southampton from 25 March 2018. While it undergoes a period of recruitment and training, the airline has made the decision to temporarily reduce its flying schedule from Munich in order to minimize disruption to passengers across the network.

"Customers who have booked directly with bmi for flights between Munich and Southampton from 25 March onwards will be contacted by bmi and offered an alternative or refund. Any customers who booked via a third party are advised to contact their agent and they will be rebooked, subject to availability, or offered a refund. Any queries or concerns regarding flights should be directed to bmi’s customer services on 0330 333 7998."

They were unable to confirm for how long the service would be suspended.

Vicky Eagle, marketing manager at Southampton airport, said that the Munich service, which launched in April 2016, had proved popular and the airport was "pleased with its performance".

She said the airport would be in talks with other airlines about the possibility of them filling the BMI slot to Munich.

Ms Eagle added that passengers could still fly to Munich from Southampton with KLM making a connection at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.