Airlines gained some relief today with news that a series of five strikes by air traffic controllers in Portugal had been cancelled.

Industrial action was due to start today (Thursday) and continue on July 8, 15, 22 and 29. Portuguese controllers had planned to walk out for two hours on each of the five days.

However, Eurocontrol confirmed this morning that the strikes had been cancelled.

The move came two days after another walkout by French air traffic controllers as leading airlines called for action to keep Europe’s skies open during such strikes.

Lobby group Airlines for Europe (A4E) estimated ATC strikes have cost up to €9.5 billion due to 167 strike days causing 30,000 cancellations in the past five years.

The overall impact amounts to around €5.6 billion in reduced tourism spending or just above €930 million a year, according to a PwC report commissioned by A4E.

Airlines have faced 20 ATC strikes so far this year, including nine in June alone.