The bosses of Britain’s three biggest airports have issued an “unprecedented joint plea” for financial support as the crisis facing travel deepens.

The chief executives of Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester Airports Group – which also controls Stansted and East Midlands – warn in an article in The Mail on Sunday that they are losing £50 million a week.

They want urgent help from the government to avoid thousands of further job losses.

Without “fair support” for airports, European aviation will have a major competitive advantage, they warn.

It is the first time the three rival airport chiefs have joined forces and they spoke out as the government prepares to introduce tough new travel restrictions.

From February 15, arrivals from countries on the Covid hotspot list must self-isolate for 10 days in quarantine hotels.

Furthermore, the government is expected to announce that all UK arrivals will have to take two Covid tests while isolating at home for 10 days.

In their article for the Mail, the bosses slate ministers for an “apparent disregard” for the vital importance of the aviation sector to the economy in powering international trade and tourism.

“We agree with the shared goal of ending this crisis and resuming normality as soon as it is safe to do so,” they wrote.

“[But] unless the government grasps the true significance of the role we play, it risks giving away our success and our competitive advantage.

“Without action, this government will be levelling down and creating a Little Britain rather than a global one.”

The three airport operators served 188 million passengers in 2019, but passenger numbers fell to just 37 million last year. An estimated 10,000 jobs have already been lost.

However, the airports’ fixed costs paid to the government – including business rates, policing and air traffic control – remain the same at more than £335 million collectively each year.