UK's biggest airports ask for help as possible closure looms

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s biggest airports including Heathrow and Gatwick have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask that any government support for the aviation industry should include help for airports, which they said could have to shut completely.

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

A group of airport chiefs said in a letter to Johnson that their businesses were being severely impacted by the lack of flights and that jobs could be lost. They asked to be included in any aviation sector support and for a meeting with the transport minister.

“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.”

The letter was signed by the CEO and chairman of Heathrow, Britain and Europe’s busiest airport, as well as the CEO and chairmen of Gatwick, Britain’s no.2 airport, and Manchester, its no.3 airport, as well as industry body the AOA.

Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Stephen Addison