Almost 200 airports in Europe face insolvency, risking the “collapse of significant parts of the air transport system”, airports association ACI Europe has warned.

ACI Europe warned that quarantine restrictions are “bringing Europe’s airports closer to the brink” every day and called for governments to “step up to provide support”, saying: “So far, few have done so.”

The association has reported up to 193 “mainly regional airports” face bankruptcy if passenger numbers do not begin to recover by the end of the year. It said the airports account for 277,000 jobs.

At the same time, ACI Europe warned the increased debt taken on by larger airports “clearly jeopardises their future”.

It reported passenger traffic at Europe’s airports was down 73% year on year in September and 75% down by mid-October, with traffic in the EU, UK and Switzerland down 80%.

The association warned: “The permanence of restrictions to cross-border travel has considerably worsened the outlook.

“Many airlines have slashed their capacity for the reminder of the year and into 2021.”

ACI Europe noted: “The airports facing insolvency are mainly regional airports which are integral to local communities. The potential ripple effect on local employment and economies is clear.

“Financial support from government will be crucial.”

It added: “Larger European airports are not immune from the financial risk. They have cut costs to the bone and resorted to financial markets to shore up balance sheets.

“This sudden increase in debt – an additional €16 billion for the top 20 European airports – is equivalent to nearly 60% of their revenues in a normal year.”

ACI Europe director general Olivier Jankovec said “In the midst of a second wave, ensuring safe air travel continues to be our primary concern. It’s crucial we reduce the risks of importation as much as possible.

“But surely we can do a better job of reducing those risks by testing air passengers rather than with quarantines.

“Eight months into the crisis, Europe’s airports are burning through cash to remain open, with revenues far from covering the costs of operations, let alone capital costs.”

He warned: “Governments’ imposition of quarantines is bringing Europe’s airports closer to the brink with every day that passes.”