UK airports have warned they will shut down "within weeks" without Government intervention due to the coronavirus.

Trade body the Airport Operators Association (AOA) urged ministers to unveil a series of measures to help airports amid dwindling passenger numbers.

This includes providing or organising emergency financing "as a measure of last resort", suspending Air Passenger Duty for six months and allowing VAT payments to be deferred.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Primark closes stores

AOA chief executive Karen Dee said: "Governments across the world are supporting their national aviation industries, as many parts of the global travel industry have come to a halt.

"As some airlines call on the UK Government to act similarly, we are clear that airports will shut down in weeks unless urgent action is taken to support the industry.

"The Government must step in to see airports across the four home nations through the current crisis, and make an unequivocal commitment to doing whatever it takes to sustain the UK aviation industry.

"For the sake of the UK economy it is essential for the UK Government to catch up to its peers across the continent and provide support to the sector and the wider economy through financing, guarantees, grants and tax relief."

Airlines have cancelled thousands of flights and announced plans to ground the majority of their aircraft due to travel restrictions and the drop in demand for flights.

Heathrow Airport said on Monday it is taking "immediate steps to safeguard the financial resilience of our business including the protection of jobs".

The chairman of pub giant Wetherspoon has warned that the Government will make a tactical error if it resorts to a "de facto lockdown" of pubs because of the coronavirus crisis.

Tim Martin said Holland's actions - admitting that most people will get the virus, while protecting the elderly and sick, thereby building up group immunity - are the best path for the UK.

READ MORE: easyJet grounds majority of fleet amid

He pointed out the huge impact pubs have on the economy, amid fears of huge job losses after Prime Minister Boris Johnson told people to stop going to pubs.

Mr Martin said: "The difference in keeping the hospitality industry open, even with reduced sales, is colossal.

"The industry contributes £120 billion a year of tax and six million jobs. Wetherspoon alone contributes £2 million a day of tax.

"Lockdown delays the inevitable and destroys the tax base at the same time, which will cripple the NHS and the economy.

"The Prime Minister should show Dutch courage and follow the example of their PM, Mark Rutte - and avoid taking French leave of his senses by following the lockdown example of perfidious Emmanuel Macron.

"The Dutch approach has the additional advantage of being in tune with the robust instincts of the nation. This is evidenced by Wetherspoon sales, which have been positive in the last few weeks in spite of storms and health scares.

"The board continues to plan partially mitigating actions. The company will announce its interim results on 20 March 2020, when a further update will be provided."

Two of the top executives at Britain's largest energy supplier, Centrica, have stepped down, leaving their successors to deal with the volatility caused by coronavirus.

Chief executive Iain Conn and chairman Charles Berry have both resigned from the British Gas owner with immediate effect, the company announced on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Laura Ashley to appoint administrators as Covid-19 has 'immediate' impact

Finance director Chris O'Shea is set to step into Mr Conn's shoes until a permanent successor can be found, Centrica said.

Meanwhile, Mr Berry, who was told by doctors to reduce his workload, will hand over to long-time board member Scott Wheway.

"I'm acutely aware that I'm taking this role at a time when we need to navigate our way through the current volatility caused by the impact of coronavirus," Mr Wheway said.

"Protecting our employees and customers is a priority for us, particularly those who are vulnerable."