Eurostar is in emergency talks with lenders to avoid a financial collapse this summer, when a £400m debt pile is due for repayment with the continent still in grip of coronavirus.
The channel tunnel operator is this weekend in advanced discussions with a group of banks, including UK taxpayer-backed NatWest, to secure lifeline funding.
Insiders said the company’s attention had turned to restructuring its loans, following weeks of lobbying ministers on both sides of the Channel for a bailout that is yet to yield a deal.
Eurostar persuaded its banks, which also include Santander and France’s Credit Agricole, to lend it hundreds of millions of pounds last summer after passenger numbers fell 95pc.
The loans must be paid back by June 2021. There is an option to extend for another 12 months, but this would require Eurostar to adhere to strict financial covenants such as retaining a minimum cash balance of £35m.
Coronavirus restrictions, culminating in the UK Government’s current ban on overseas travel, continue to exacerbate the operator’s parlous financial position.