The latest French air traffic control (ATC) strike has caused a record-breaking 1,500 flight cancellations, according to estimates by commercial aviation group Airlines for Europe (A4E).

The industry body, which represents Europe’s biggest airlines, said the March 6-10 walkout affected more than 1 million passengers and led to more than 320,000 minutes—or 5,300 hours—of delays.

A4E managing director Thomas Reynaert described the impact on passengers as “devastating” and once again called on European and French policymakers to minimize strike disruption, without affecting controllers’ fundamental right to strike.

Potential solutions proposed by A4E include requiring a minimum notice period of 72 hours and allowing upper airspace flights to continue by removing geographical dependency.

The walkout was one of the longest ATC strikes in Europe, affecting control centers in Brest, Bordeaux and Marseille. The action forced airlines to cut their French flights by 25% and disrupted services overflying France—including links from the UK and Italy, Switzerland and Spain—triggering congestion and lengthy detours.

A4E called on passengers to sign its petition calling for strike disruption to be minimized, adding that ATC strikes have had a €12 billion ($12.8 billion) impact on European Union GDP over the last seven years.

“Travelers can unite and let out their frustration about the continuous travel disruptions supporting our petition ‘Keep Europe’s Skies open.’ We will present this petition in Brussels to urge the EU Commission and the EU Parliament to finally take action. Holidays and the summer break are ahead of us as possibly the next strikes,” Reynaert said.

A4E warned that another walkout is likely in Italy March 20.

Victoria Moores victoria.moores@penton.com