UK airports to shut down ‘within weeks’ due to coronavirus outbreak

Britain’s major airports will shut down "within weeks" without government support due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester are among a number of UK airports which have written an urgent letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The group of airport chiefs said in the letter that their businesses are being severely impacted by the lack of flights.

They said that jobs could be lost and that it could result in the airports temporarily closing completely.

They asked to be included in any aviation sector support and demanded a meeting with the transport minister.

It comes as foreign secretary Dominic Raab announced the government is advising against "all but essential travel" outside of the UK for 30 days.

"We may have to close passenger facilities and halt operations," the group said.

"We would therefore ask you to make the needs of Britain's airports a top government priority at this time and make clear your commitment to supporting the aviation industry."

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The letter was signed by the CEO and chairman of Heathrow, Britain and Europe's busiest airport, as well as the CEO and chairman of Gatwick, Britain's second biggest airport, and Manchester, the third biggest, as well as industry body the Airport Operators Association.

The move comes as the government is expected to unveil a rescue package later today for businesses like airlines and pubs which are threatened with collapse by the coronavirus outbreak.

It follows Mr Johnson's move yesterday to push the UK closer to an Italy-style lockdown.

He urged Brits to stop non-essential travel and contact with others, and told workers to work from home where possible.

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He also urged people not to visit pubs, restaurants and theatres and told people over 70 or with underlying health conditions to stay at home for 12 weeks.

And he told the nation that if one person within a household shows symptoms of Covid-19, the entire household must then isolate for two weeks.

Airports have been hit hard by the virus with travel restrictions – coupled with passengers refusing to fly – leaving terminals and aircraft empty.

Most of Britain's airlines – including British Airways, TUI and Virgin Atlantic – are already in the middle of grounding most of their fleets.

  • Boris Johnson
  • Gatwick
  • Coronavirus

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