The boss of Manchester Airports Group today condemned industrial action in France which cost £500,000 in delays last month.

Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, revealed that two strikes by French air traffic control workers in May resulted in the cancellation of 26 flights, and increased delays totalling some 6,500 minutes across the group’s four airports.

He spoke out as MAG airports reported passenger numbers up by 5.6% over May 2015. Its two biggest airports, Manchester and Stansted, grew by 7.2% and 4.6% respectively year-on-year.

“Industrial action in France is having has an unacceptable impact on travellers using our airports,” Cornish said.

“Just the additional delays in May cost airlines and passengers at MAG airports about £500,000.

“But this was the 50th such event over the last seven years, so across UK airports as a whole this adds up to considerable hassle and extra cost for airlines, airports and passengers.

“European airports operate in a complex network which means this avoidable disruption in France has significant knock-on effects to operations everywhere else.

“Ahead of what is set to be the busiest summer on record for UK airports, it is vital that European and national agencies work together to find ways to reduce the impact of strike on passengers and airlines.”

Manchester airport was helped as alternative destinations to Egypt, Turkey and North Africa grew passenger numbers dramatically, with particular growth recorded to Madeira, Cape Verde, Malta, France, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, mainland Spain, Dominican Republic, Croatia and mainland Portgual.

Bournemouth airport saw a small drop in passenger figures, but the core sun destinations of Spain, Portugal, Canary Islands and Cyprus all saw passenger number rise.

Stansted saw its 26th consecutive month of year-on-year passenger growth,

East Midlands airport, posted a 4.5% increase in passengers driven by “healthy” numbers travelling to Spain (4%) and the Canary Islands (11.4%).