The aviation sector faces being “left in the dark” as the UK negotiates to leave the European Union from 2019.

The warning came from airport trade association ACI Europe ahead of the government notifying its intention to leave the EU on March 29.

The concerns were echoed by Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, the owner of Manchester, Stansted, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports.

“Negotiators must prioritise the agreement of a framework for air travel that provides early certainty to passengers and airlines about their ability to fly post-Brexit,” he said.

“Business travellers and holidaymakers alike expect to be able to continue to fly between the UK and Europe, and for this reason it has to be a common goal for both sides to agree during 2017 either a temporary or permanent solution for how aviation will operate after April 2019.”

ACI Europe warned of the prospect of ongoing uncertainty over the rules that will come to govern aviation between the UK and the remaining EU member states (EU27).

“This needs to be quickly resolved to provide clarity for passengers, airlines and airports so as to enable continued investment in growing our collective connectivity,” the trade body warned.

The organisation also cautioned about the economic consequences of the UK aviation market not remaining closely integrated within the EU bloc.

ACI Europe director general, Olivier Jankovec, said: “The ‘sequencing’ of the Brexit negotiations means talks will initially focus on agreeing exit terms for the UK, before they eventually come to define the new relationship between the UK and the EU27 as of 2019.

“This implies that the aviation industry will be left in the dark for many more months to come about what will happen.

“Unless quickly resolved, this uncertainty will end up constraining route network development for airports, ultimately affecting air connectivity for their communities. This is due to the fact that airline route planning requires both long lead times and legal certainty.”

And Jankovec warned “As responsible businesses, at this stage we simply cannot rule out a cliff-edged scenario for Brexit and aviation.

“The potential impact of this on air connectivity, consumers and the wider economy needs to be addressed by Brexit negotiators – on both sides.

“This means that adequate contingencies need to be established promptly in case the UK would exit the EU without any agreement on its future relationship with the bloc.”