International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) has said the EU referendum should have “no material impact” on its business, repeating the assertion of chief executive Willie Walsh in advance of the vote.

However the airline group, which owns British Airways, issued a statement downgrading its previous profits forecast for the year.

IAG said in the statement: “IAG believes the vote to leave the EU will not have a long term material impact on its business.

“However, in the run up to the UK referendum during June, IAG experienced a weaker than expected trading environment.

“Following the referendum, and given current market volatility, while IAG continues to expect a significant increase in operating profit this year, it no longer expects to generate an absolute operating profit increase similar to 2015.”

Walsh told the Abta Travel Matters conference in London the day before the referendum: “We’ve undertaken a risk assessment and have concluded that should Britain vote to leave, this will not have a long-term material impact on our business.”

However, he said: “The aviation industry and consumers in Europe, including the UK, have benefited from free trade within a common aviation area.

“I personally believe Britain’s interests are best served by staying in the EU and influencing reform from within.”