Leading airline figures have contradicted claims that a British exit (Brexit) from the EU would hit travel by calling into question existing aviation agreements.

Asked about the impact of a vote to leave, Iata director general Tony Tyler said: “The European Common Aviation Area is already wider than the EU and includes non-EU member states such as Norway and Iceland.

“One very plausible outcome is that Britain would remain within the Common Aviation Area, in which case nothing very much would change.”

Iata chief economist Brian Pearce told Travel Weekly: “We have noted what the International Monetary Fund and UK Treasury have said [about the impact of Britain leaving].”

The Treasury has forecast a year-long recession if Britain votes ‘leave’, and the IMF warned of “reduced global growth” and “major challenges for the UK and the rest of Europe”.

Pearce said: “It would affect traffic in the UK. But airlines in the UK are international and some have hubs elsewhere, so it might not have a substantial effect.”

Lufthansa group chief executive Carsten Spohr also downplayed the impact on travel.

Speaking following a meeting of the Star Alliance chief executives’ board, Spohr said: “It [a Brexit vote] would slow down European trade, but it would affect aviation less than other industries.”

Tui UK managing director Nick Longman backed ‘remain’ in an interview in the The Mail on Sunday, arguing: “The tourism industry and millions of British holidaymakers strongly benefit from the common European market.”

However, he added: “If Britain does vote leave, there will be things we’ll have to work through.

“But we’ve done a full risk analysis and there is nothing insurmountable.”

Uncertainty about the outcome of the June 23 referendum intensified after polls narrowed in recent days.