TWO Southampton MPs have voiced their fears over the impact a large number of job losses at cruise giant Carnival could have on the city.

As previously reported, Carnival UK – which owns P&O Cruises and Cunard – has warned of widespread redundancies and sabbaticals.

It says the cuts are vital to secure the future of the company during its “hibernation” enforced by the coronavirus lockdown.

Those who keep their jobs will be given a 20 per cent cut in pay and hours from July to November.

Royston Smith, Conservative MP for Southampton Itchen, said: "Job losses at Carnival will be hard felt locally. Their dedicated and hard-working staff will be very concerned by this news and I hope Carnival will do all they can to support those affected.

“This terrible virus presents a challenge like nothing before and unfortunately jobs will be lost. When it's safe, Carnival will want to resume their operations as quickly as possible and I hope that they will support their workforce until this is possible."

Alan Whitehead, Labour MP for Southampton Test, hoped Carnival would reconsider in the wake of the chancellor’s decision to extend the government’s jobs furlough scheme to October.

He said of Carnival's move: “This is potentially an indicator that the cruise line industry which is so important for Southampton is in potential long term difficulty and that Carnival are reacting to that.

“If that’s not the case, I think they may be acting precipitately in terms of being able to use other means of getting themselves through the present crisis so that they get the cruise industry back on its feet again, which everyone in Southampton will want to see happen.”

ABP, operator of the Port of Southampton, estimates that each cruise ship calling at the city is worth £2million to the local economy. The money spreads out to businesses such as hotels, shops, taxis and all the companies that resupply the ships during their stay.

Carnival has refused to say how many jobs will go, but one source said 450 positions were being put at risk.

In a video message to staff, Carnival UK president Josh Weinstein said: “I am truly sorry for the pain that this is going to cause but the hard truth is that if we don’t right-size the company and significantly reduce our cash burn during this devastating crisis, we may not successfully get to the other side of this – and I certainly don’t want to see the proud 180-year histories of P&O Cruises and Cunard wind down on our watch.”