Uncertainty is never good for business yet this is what we are having to contend with as we await clarity on the UK’s new trading relationship with the EU. The full extent of the UK’s decision to leave the EU will take time to materialise, however, from an aviation perspective it’s vitally important we reach a post-Brexit settlement which works for both the UK and EU markets.

There is no question that aviation benefited hugely from being part of the EU by making air travel more affordable and convenient. Since the EU Single Aviation Market came into force in the 1990s the number of intra-European flights has more than doubled and there has been a 150% increase in long-haul flights departing from EU airports.

Prior to the creation of the Single Aviation Market, air transport had been a highly regulated industry, dominated by national flag carriers and state-owned airports. The subsequent liberalisation of the market removed all commercial restrictions for airlines flying within the EU, such as restrictions on the routes, the number of flights and the setting of fares.

Read more: Beyond Brexit - Scottish passport plan could allow Scots to keep working and living in Europe

This in turn created the conditions for the emergence of the low-cost carriers who went on to play a major role in establishing the UK’s aviation sector as the largest in Europe and the third largest in the world after the US and China. In addition to supporting one million jobs and contributing £1 billion a week to the UK economy, the UK’s aviation sector transported a record 251 million passengers in 2015.

And where are these passengers flying to? According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the EU is the single biggest destination market from the UK, accounting for 49% of passengers and 54% of scheduled commercial flights. This includes 10.8 million annual visits to Spain, six million to France and around two million each to Italy and Portugal. Conversely, the UK welcomes around four million French visitors, 3.2 million Germans and around two million travellers from both Spain and the Netherlands, according to figures from VisitBritain and ABTA.

What these figures clearly demonstrate is a strong interdependency between UK and EU aviation, so it is in the interests of all parties to maintain the status quo. How we achieve that is undoubtedly the challenge. What isn’t in doubt is Scotland’s unique reliance on aviation nor is the risk that without new agreements on aviation, airlines lose the legal framework to fly their current EU routes and some long-haul ones, like to the US and Canada.

Read more: Beyond Brexit - Scottish passport plan could allow Scots to keep working and living in Europe

The ability of Scotland to maintain and increase its global competitiveness is dependent on having air links with established and emerging markets. Yet in the months following Brexit there have been some worrying developments. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has suggested the number of UK air passengers could be 3-5% lower by 2020 due to an expected downturn in economic activity. A number of airlines have also stated they will scale back their UK growth plans, focusing instead on adding capacity at airports in the EU. This includes Scotland’s two largest airlines, easyJet and Ryanair, who carry a combined total of nine million passengers to and from Scotland every year.

Now more than ever it is important we send a message to airlines that Scotland remains open for business and with the proposed 50% reduction in Air Passenger Duty (APD) we have a very real opportunity to do so. As the highest form of aviation tax in the world, APD places our airports at a severe disadvantage when it comes to competing for new routes. The 50% cut would play a major role in cultivating confidence amongst airlines post-Brexit and deliver an immediate boost to our competitiveness.

Read more: Beyond Brexit - Scottish passport plan could allow Scots to keep working and living in Europe

Airlines are already working on their European network plans for 2017/18, so we must act swiftly and ensure the 50% cut is implemented in full in April 2018. In the interim, it is important that aviation forms a key part of any Brexit negotiations so that our country continues to benefit from open access to important international markets.

Amanda McMillan is the Chief Executive of AGS Airports Limited, owner of Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports