European airports association ACI Europe has warned the EU’s intended response to a no-deal Brexit threatens small and medium-sized airports across the EU.

ACI Europe president Michael Kerkloh, chief executive of Munich airport, said: “We are worried about the contingency measures proposed [by the EU].

“Freezing airline capacity will hurt connectivity and consumers on both sides [of the EU-UK border].”

Speaking at a European Parliament reception this week, Kerkloh said: “Larger [EU] airports and big cities might withstand the shock. But medium-sized and smaller airports will be much more affected. Their exposure to the UK can be very significant.”

ACI Europe suggests up to 93,000 flights may be cancelled, affecting up to 20 million passengers, if the EU proceeds with a threat to put a cap on airlines’ current capacity on UK-EU routes.

The association previously estimated a cap would threaten 140,000 flights.

At the same time, global airport association ACI World listed Brexit among a series of threats to air traffic growth this year.

ACI World reported air traffic in 2018 increased by 6% to November. But director general Andrea Gittens said: “The trade war between the world’s two largest economies has tested the industry this year.”

She said: “The outlook for the industry’s performance this year remains uncertain.

“The US federal government is suffering a partial slowdown. China’s relationships are under tension with several major Western Countries, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU is still being negotiated and geopolitical tensions are high in the Middle East with the Qatar crisis remaining unresolved.”

Gittens warned: “All could have a significant impact on passenger and traffic growth in 2019.”