Air traffic control (ATC) strikes have reduced the European Union’s (EU) gross domestic product (GDP) by up to €9.5bn between 2010 and 2015, a new study published by Airlines for Europe (A4E) has revealed.

Compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the research found that the strikes have affected 131,000 jobs.

From 2010 to 2015, there were 167 ATC strike days in the EU, occurring most frequently in France, Greece, Italy and Portugal.

"Southern European states suffer more than others from ATC strikes because passengers are unable to reach their holiday destination."

Over the last six years, the strikes have resulted in 30,000 flight cancellations and more than six million minutes of delay among A4E airlines.

A4E managing director Thomas Reynaert said: "Tourism plays a major role in the EU economy and is the third largest social-economic activity in the EU generating over 5% of EU GDP.

"Southern European states suffer more than others from ATC strikes because passengers are unable to reach their holiday destination.

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"The EU Commission needs to put the tourism sector back into the spotlight – there are barely better programmes to tackle high rates of youth unemployment in Southern Europe."

The major economic impact caused by the strikes is due to reduced tourism spending, which has cost the EU about €5.6bn in the last six years or just above €930m each year.

The strikes have also reduced productivity associated with longer flights and waiting times, resulting in a loss of €3.3bn over the same period or €550m annually.

Lower airline sector revenues caused an additional loss of about €551m or nearly €92m every year.