Jobless locals outnumber tourists

The queue for work snaked round the terminal building

Passengers at Southampton Airport were outnumbered by the jobless by almost 2-1 on Wednesday as the Airport held its first careers fair.

Around 5000 people visited the airport in five hours for a chance of applying for one of 100 jobs on offer – which included UNPAID vacancies.

Hampshire Constabulary – who last year last year announced they would be axing 1400 paid posts -were recruiting volunteers to work as special constables describing the role ‘as a possible route into the police force”

Traffic jams built up as the queue snaked out the building.

There are around 5000 people signing on for jobs seekers allowance in the Southampton and Eastleigh it seemed if claimants had been told “Be there or else”

One attendee who did not wish to be named said:

“It was billed as a ‘careers fair’ but most of the vacancies were either entry level or for just the summer season.

When I arrived there were the BBC and press everywhere – it was like an ‘X-factor’ audition”

Caroline Morton who manages HR for Southampton Airport’s owners BAA said:

“The first ever Southampton Airport Careers Fair has been a huge success, resulting in thousands of people visiting the airport to find out more on the variety of jobs that will be available here. The response has been overwhelming and more than anyone could have ever imagined for 100 posts.

“The sheer level of interest reflects the popularity of Southampton Airport as a place to work, as well as the current local demand for work”

Although Southampton Airport is anticipating increased passenger volumes from new routes this summer, the past year has seen a decline in footfall.

December was a particularly bad month with a 22% decline from th previous year due to the snow.

More bad weather at the start of last year, the Icelandic volcano fiasco and strikes added to the disruption last year while the recession and rises in air passenger duty further suppressed demand.

However, despite the decline in passenger numbers air freight movements at the airport increased and look healthy as the balance of trade swings further towards imports due to the continuing decline in UK manufacturing.

Southampton airport lies entirely within Eastleigh Borough and is a major local employer.

Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary has supported a rise in passenger air duty and palns to reform it to a per plane tax which critics say would result in fewer passenger flights and also hit air freight traffic.