Four airport ground operations firms have warned they are close to collapse, putting thousands of jobs at risk.
Swissport, WFS, Dnata and Menzies may not be able to continue operating for more than a few weeks, with some 25,000 jobs under threat.
They called for urgent assistance from the government in a joint letter.
Their revenues have taken a hit with most passenger flights suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic.
They said in a letter to chancellor Rishi Sunak: “We have all been able to weather previous crises, whether 9/11, Sars or the Icelandic volcanic eruption, but Covid-19 is different, as it is both global and longer-term.”
The firms provide 90% of airport handling services across the UK, and say that airports could have to close if they fail.
They warned that without their services, “the airport infrastructure in the UK would grind to a halt for up to four months”.
The ground-handling firms told transport minister Kelly Tolhurst that they are “perilously close to collapse” and likely to run out of cash within six weeks, according to weekend reports.