SOUTHAMPTON Airport has suffered a decrease of almost 70,000 passengers in just five months - and experts blame Brexit.

Between January and May of this year, the total number of passenger has fallen by 67,868.

This is despite the fact the airport hopes to submit a planning application for a runway extension this summer.

If approved by Eastleigh Borough Council, the building works will commence in early 2020 for completion by the end of the year.

Welcoming 699,108 air travellers overall, it is an 8.8 per cent decrease from the year before which saw 766,973 passengers pass through in the same period.

The number of bookings for this May were 23,541 less than last year.

According to the airport, this was due to BMI Regional pulling out of Southampton Airport and partially due to Brexit.

An airport spokesperson said: “People are scared to fly due to Brexit.

“They fear spending money right now because of economic uncertainty.

“We were hoping things would settle down in March when a decision was due to be made however people are sceptical about booking.

“There is a lack of confidence in the market and holidays are expensive.

“They worry they might not get their money back if their flights are cancelled.

However it is not just passenger numbers that have dropped, the airport has also seen a fall in overall flights.

The figures from a report by the Southampton International Airport Consultative Committee show that between January and May this year there were 14,445 flight movements.

This is a decrease of 9.2% compared to 15,911 flights for the same period in 2018.

Flight figures include passenger and cargo, training, air ambulance, general aviation, military, air taxi and connecting flights.

The airport has also seen the loss of Dutch airline, KLM which made its last journey from Southampton last month.

KLM decided to axe its route to Amsterdam Schipol Airport which it deemed was no longer profitable and came just two years after the daily service began.

Despite these figures, the airport plans to extend its runway and increase employment by 50 per cent over the next 20 years.

According to the Southampton Airport Draft Master Plan, a document which sets out the vision and potential growth path for the airport, overall passenger volumes are forecast to grow from 2m in 2017 to 4m by 2027.

It is proposed that as part of the airport’s development plan, the northern end of the runway will be extended by up to 170 metres.

Airport bosses say this will allow aircraft to operate with reduced weight restrictions and aircraft range to be increased.

However, a spokesperson for Southampton Airport added that the decrease in passengers and flights numbers will not have an impact on its master plan.