THE UK's largest trade union has warned that a "huge economic hole" will hit Southampton if the government doesn't step in to help its main airport.

It is believed that jobs at Southampton Airport will no longer exist to its workers if government chiefs do not take urgent action soon.

Figures released by Unite have now revealed that securing the future of the airport is crucial to the city's economic wellbeing, and they are urging the government to offer loans to the aviation sector.

It comes after airports and airlines were largely hit by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, after the UK government banned non-essential travel, leading to thousands of cancelled flights.

Daily Echo:

While the union works to keep workers in jobs and protect incomes during the coronavirus pandemic, it was discovered that the airport generates £161 million per year for its local area.

Around 200 workers are employed directly by the airport with a further 950 workers located on the airport’s campus.

Unite regional officer Chris Gray said: "Airports are hives of economic activity.

"Southampton airport pumps £161 million into the local economy, supporting the jobs and livelihoods of scores of workers, from ground staff and security officers to tax drivers and shop staff.

"If these jobs go then a huge economic hole will open up in the Southampton area and it could take decades to recover.

"Overnight, airports were effectively shut down by the government to protect the public's health but we are now pleading with ministers to protect our area's long-term economic security."

The union is warning that without urgent action by central government to stabilise the sector, workers employed as crew, ground staff, engineers and in all the associated retail and transport jobs will no longer exist.

He added: "We are not asking for a giveaway but for loans that will be repaid when the sector is back on its feet, and we have support for this from across the political spectrum.

"But the clock is ticking. It is more than two months since the chancellor promised that a support package would be forthcoming for aviation but he has yet to deliver. The communities that rely on Southampton for jobs and their prosperity cannot wait much longer.”

They propose for loans to come with strict strings attached regarding executive pay, corporate governance and requiring strict environmental standards to be adopted to radically improve the industry’s carbon footprint.

Unite also said that in order to secure the airport's future, it may need a different ownership model "in order to flourish", with public ownership or a public private partnership being an alternative.

It is calling on everyone whose work is connected to the airport or who is concerned about its future to email their MP and call for support for the airport and the UK’s entire aviation sector.