Businesses “should be thinking about the worst case” on Brexit and not expect certainty “for some time”, a senior analyst warned the UK industry last week.

PwC partner Andrew Gray told an Abta briefing on Brexit: “The risk of no deal is higher than before Christmas.

“Everyone should be thinking about the worst case [scenario]. There are going to be unintended consequences and a ripple effect from all businesses having to readjust at the same moment.”

Gray, who chairs PwC UK’s Brexit steering committee, told UK travel leaders: “We’re not expecting any political certainty for some time.

“You must be ready to respond, but as of now we don’t know to what. If nothing else happens, we’ll be in [for] no deal.”

He said: “The UK may need to seek an extension [of the leaving date], but I don’t see that as an immediate option. It has not been put forward [officially yet] and there would be a number of steps.

“June 30 has been suggested as [an alternative date]. September 30 has also been suggested. There are challenges with any extension, and there is still a risk of no deal.”

Gray told Abta members: “The possibilities of a second referendum or the withdrawal of Article 50 [triggering Brexit] are remote. To have a referendum would require a major political party commit to a referendum and neither has.”

He noted: “We’ve seen announcements on flying rights.” But he warned: “Right to work [in the EU] won’t be automatic – staff may need a work visa – [and] the industry may need to capture more advance passenger information.”

Gray said: “The UK government has been remarkably pragmatic and sought to preserve ways of doing business. We’ve not seen that in other EU states.

“People feel a degree of uncertainty. Employees are feeling it. EU nationals are feeling it.”

PwC surveyed 800 firms, asking ‘Are you Brexit-ready, whatever happens?’ It found 10% considered their business ready, 40% expected to be ready so long as there is a transition, 40% reported significant work to do, and 10% had not begun to prepare.