Airline bosses have written to the Prime Minister urging “immediate action” to address the crisis in aviation, warning of a “bleak’ winter and tens of thousands of job losses.

The heads of easyJet, Ryanair, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Wizz Air, Tui Airways, and others called on Boris Johnson to bring in Covid tests for arrivals by the end the month, extend the regional corridors policy and provide continuing support for jobs.

In a letter from Airlines UK they warned: “Our industry is in crisis. This year we expect to carry passenger numbers not seen since the 1990s.

“UK airlines alone have announced or begun consulting on over 30,000 job losses. Many thousands more are under threat.

“The announcement this week of an ‘islands’ policy with respect to travel quarantine is . . . by no means enough to support the sector through the most-challenging winter we have ever faced.

“The summer season has been lost. We are now faced with a bleak winter period with no certainty as to which markets we can operate to, depressed passenger demand, a Job Retention Scheme (JRS) which is due to end in October and the absence of a support package for aviation which other countries across Europe long ago put in place for their own sectors.”

The airline bosses point out: “Covid-19 testing is already employed by over 30 countries and half the world’s busiest airports. The UK is falling well behind international rivals.

“The aviation industry has been engaging with the government on introducing testing for months.

“Now is the time for action. We urge you to announce and implement a policy on testing before the end of this month and an expansion of regional travel corridors to mainland areas. We risk economic ruin otherwise.”

They argue: “A Covid-19 PCR test following a five-day quarantine on arrival into the UK offers a credible balance between protecting public health and increasing demand for air travel.

“At the same time, the government should implement a trial – for example, between London and New York – testing both on arrival and at day five, which would provide real-world data to give ministers the reassurance that a one-test on arrival system is safe.”

The letter argues: “A meaningful package of economic measures to support the industry and save jobs is also required.”

It asks for an APD waiver for the next 12 months and extension of the Job Retention or Skills Retention Scheme “for aviation and key industries that continue to be impacted by Covid-19 restrictions”.

The letter is signed by Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade and by airline bosses including BA chief executive Alex Cruz, Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary, easyJet chief Johan Lundgren, Virgin Atlantic chief executive Shai Weiss, chief executive Steve Heapy, Tui Aviation chief Kenton Jarvis and Wizz Air UK managing director Owain Jones.