Airlines need a clear view of how Britain's exit from the European Union will affect aviation by October next year at the latest, the head of a leading airline industry body said today. 

"Brexit is not good news for aviation," Alexandre de Juniac, head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said today. 

De Juniac said IATA flagged immediately that aviation was a key sector and that talks had to be done quickly, but expressed concern that negotiations had not begun. 

"We sell the tickets one year in advance, we put the programme in place six months in advance, so at the latest we should have a clear vision of what is going to happen in October 2018," he said. 

Flying rights are currently governed by EU-wide deals and because it is not part of the World Trade Organisation, the aviation sector has no natural fallback arrangement to protect flights if there is no deal between Britain and the EU. 

De Juniac also said he had warned Britain it would not be an easy process, because some countries may want to restrict access of its carriers. 

EasyJet has applied for an operating licence in Austria in order to protect its ability to fly between EU destinations once Britain leaves the bloc, while Hungary-based Wizz Air has conversely applied for a UK licence. 

Ryanair's chief executive Michael O'Leary had also warned there is a remote chance of all flights between the UK and Europe being suspended in March 2019 if the UK government opts for a "cliff-edge" Brexit.

Mr O'Leary said the current open skies arrangement hinges on recognising the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

But UK prime minister Theresa May had said that Britain would no longer be subject to the open skies deal.

Mr O'Leary believes it will take more than the two-year time frame from triggering Article 50 to put agreements in place with European Union nations.