Eurotunnel has warned that its future survival is dependent upon it managing to successfully restructure its giant debt mountain.
Eurotunnel faces massive debts
The warning came as the Channel Tunnel operator said it was seeking an extension for talks with its creditors.
"We cannot guarantee the future of the group in 2007, unless there is a global financial restructuring," said Eurotunnel chairman Jacques Gounon.
The company is seeking to reduce debts reported to total more than £6bn.
Falling passenger numbers
Formed in 1987 to run the rail tunnel linking the UK and France, Anglo-French Eurotunnel has struggled ever since the tunnel first opened in 1994.
It quickly emerged that passenger numbers were substantially below those estimated in its business plan, and that as a result it would struggle to pay off the huge debts built up building the tunnel.
Last year Eurotunnel announced 900 job cuts as it sought to reduce costs.
Separately on Monday, the firm said its revenues for the first quarter of 2006 totalled £131.5m, slightly down on the £131.6m a year earlier.
Passenger numbers showed a significantly larger drop, with car numbers falling 16% to 37,437 during the first quarter of this year compared to 12 months previously.
Coach numbers were down 27% to 12,858 from 17,629 a year earlier.
A spokesman for Eurotunnel said that although passenger numbers had dipped, the firm's yield figure has increased "significantly", as the company continued to better harmonise capacity with demand.