Airline leaders warned of imminent failures and wholesale job losses at the start of this week.

Speaking at the Airlines 2050 Summit on Monday, Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade warned: “All airlines are, in effect, bankrupt. We’ll see failures. It’s just a matter of time, depending on balance sheets. We know the clock is ticking.

“If we don’t get a test regime in place and the government is not forthcoming with money, we’re going to see airlines go out of business.”

Dale Keller, chief executive of the UK Board of Airline Representatives agreed, warning: “We see a cliff edge coming at the end of October. The furlough scheme was a lifesaver for the industry. The Job Support Scheme is not suited to an industry that has travel restrictions. You’re almost better to let more staff go.”

Loganair chief executive Jonathan Hinkles echoed the warning, saying: “There is a limited amount of time left if the government is going to make a difference. I’m surprised we haven’t seen business failures yet. I’m not just talking about airlines but airports and ground handlers.”

Alderslade insisted: “The whole sector is frustrated. I’ve no doubt the Department for Transport knows all the issues we’re grappling with. The issue is every other sector of the economy is in the same boat.”

Keller agreed: “The frustration is real. But the government has it in its gift to look at its communications.

“There is a lack of understanding of what’s going on and because people can’t see a roadmap. If ministers decide not to release information, you get this feeling nothing is happening when actually a lot has been happening behind the scenes.”

Senior aviation consultant David Huttner of PA Consulting told the summit: “There are going to be failures. But we also see parties willing to take opportunities if debts can be restructured.” He cited the deal to resurrect Flybe, announced by the carrier’s administrators on Monday.

The Flybe name has been acquired by Thyme Opco, owned by Cyrus Capital, a joint owner of Flybe when it failed.

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