A HAMPSHIRE MP has warned that Southampton Airport could struggle to survive if controversial plans for a longer runway are thrown out.

Flick Drummond, Tory MP for the Meon Valley, has thrown her support behind proposals to make the airport more competitive by extending the runway by 164 metres.

The airport is normally worth around £161m to the local economy but has been hit hard in recent months.

It was still reeling from the collapse of Flybe when the outbreak of the coronavirus outbreak resulted in all flights being grounded.

Ms Drummond said: "I am pleased other airlines have filled some of the capacity left vacant by Flybe’s demise, but I am of the view that unless the runway is longer, the airport cannot make use of bigger aircraft and its future will continue to be difficult.

“I certainly want the airport to flourish - it's an important regional infrastructure asset.

"I understand there are technical issues around the runway expansion and fears over pollution and noise in a built-up area.

“Much work would need to be done to tackle these but the most important question here is: can the airport continue in its present form? I believe the answer no and solutions, including a longer runway, need to happen.”

As reported in the Daily Echo, plans to upgrade the airport could be decided as early as next month.

Proposals to expand the airport’s runway by 164 metres and add an extra 600 parking spaces to the existing long stay car park could be discussed and determined in the next few weeks.

But airport bosses have confirmed that a second public consultation will be held before a final decision is made by Eastleigh Borough Council.

If the scheme is given the go-ahead would create 400 new jobs with a regional economic benefit of £400m by 2037.