ONE OF Europe's biggest airlines is pulling out of Southampton Airport - just two years after launching a new daily service.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, which flies to about 140 destinations across the globe, is axing its summer service between Southampton and Amsterdam.

It comes after a regional airline operating out of Southampton issued a profits warning and put itself up for sale.

Flybe has been hit by rising fuel costs and the weak pound, plus a decline in consumer demand for flights to domestic and near-continent destinations.

KLM has been flying out of Southampton since May 2016.

An airline spokesman the service was being withdrawn for financial and commercial reasons as well as slot restrictions imposed by Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

The spokesman added: "The last (KLM) flight will take off from Southampton on March 30 2019. Passengers from Southampton to Amsterdam and vice-versa will be rebooked on alternative flights."

The airport's managing director, Neil Garwood, said the airport was "very disappointed" at KLM’s decision.

But he added: "We remain well connected to Amsterdam with four flights throughout the day with other business partners.

“We will be speaking with existing and other airlines about the possibility of strengthening our links to this important part of our route network.”

Earlier this year the airport revived plans to extend its runway in a move which could double passenger numbers over the next decade and create 500 jobs.

A runway extension formed part of the airport's previous masterplan, which was grounded by the economic crash of 2008.

The latest proposal would enable existing aircraft to carry heavier loads and more fuel, allowing them to fly further and bringing more Mediterranean destinations within reach of Southampton. It would also allow larger narrow-body planes to use Southampton.

According to the masterplan passenger numbers could increase to four million a year by 2027, with the figure rising to five million by 2037.

The airport says it aims to contribute £400m to Hampshire's economy a year by 2037 compared with the current £161m.

Last night a spokesman said: "KLM’s announcement will not be impacting our airport expansion in any way."

Plans by KLM to use the airport were unveiled in 2015.

Speaking at the time then managing director Dave Lees said: "This is very important news for Hampshire.

"It means people can use Southampton Airport to get anywhere in the world in a quick and easy way with KLM via Amsterdam."