A Ryanair aircraft lands at Ciampino Airport in Rome
London – Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers, plans to pivot its growth away from Britain over the next two years as it fears the lack of clarity over Brexit will cause major travel disruption and hit demand.

Airlines such as Ryanair and rival easyJet have urged the British government to put aviation at the front of the queue when negotiating its EU exit, because they need to finalise their 2019 summer schedules in the first half of next year.

Airlines based in the EU have the right to fly to, from and within any country in the bloc thanks to the single aviation market created in the 1990s, meaning Britain has just two years to renegotiate access or come up with an alternative system.

“Ryanair is pivoting its growth away from the UK,” finance director Neil Sorahan told reporters in London, adding that the airline had planned to grow by about 15 percent in the UK last year, but had instead posted growth of about 6 percent.

“Brexit will inevitably lead to a slowdown in growth in the UK. We haven’t seen it yet, but we believe it will lead to a slowdown in growth in both the UK and the EU, as both parties have to deal with a completely new scenario.”

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Sorahan added the growth may slow more sharply "as we get closer to the end of the two-year divorce process".