A planned 24-hour strike by Belgian air traffic controllers set to begin the evening of Feb. 12 has led to hundreds of flight cancellations.

More than 400 flights to and from Belgium have been canceled by Airlines for Europe (A4E) carriers in advance of the air traffic control (ATC) strike, which is set to begin at 10 p.m. local time, the industry group said. A4E’s 15 members account for 70% of Europe’s air travel.

“ATC strikes have unfortunately become a common occurrence in Europe and 2019 is shaping up to be no different than in the previous years. These strikes are increasingly damaging not only local economies and tourism but the reputation of European aviation amongst its passengers,” A4E MD Thomas Reynaert said in a statement.

There were a record 30 ATC strike days in Europe in 2018, disrupting travel plans for millions, A4E said.

A4E continues to call for implementation of mitigation practices recommended by the European Commission in 2017, particularly improvements in the predictability, impact and scale of strikes.

In countries most frequently affected by ATC strikes, such as France, A4E has proposed a mandatory 72-hour notification period for employees wishing to strike and the protection of overflights.

Kurt Hofmann, hofmann.aviation@netway.at