Alitalia Cancels 100+ Flights Due To An Employee Strike

Alitalia has had to cancel more than 100 flights today due to a strike by airline employees. Unions called the strike in support of Alitalia, Air Italy, Blue Panorama, Air Dolomiti, and Neos employees. Despite the strike, Italian law guarantees that military, humanitarian, emergency, and rescue flights must continue and that ENAV employees who manage Italy’s air traffic control are prohibited from striking.

The strike was for 24 hours. Photo: Getty Images

Also, flights deemed essential to Sicily, Sardinia, Lampedusa, Pantelleria, and several north-to-south routes cannot be canceled. With the strike commencing right after midnight on Monday, Alitalia was also forced to cancel several flights the day before the strike.

Alitalia is offering full refunds

Alitalia has to cancel around half of its scheduled flights and has told passengers to check if their flight is operating before heading to the airport. Passengers can do this by visiting Alitalia’s website or calling toll-free 800.65.00.55 from Italy or +39.06.65649 from overseas.

If your flight got canceled, Alitalia says you can change your reservation or request a full refund without penalty up until July 20, 2021.

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Why are Alitalia employees striking?

The answer to this question is because they are all afraid that they will lose their jobs. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic brought air travel in Italy to a standstill, Alitalia had been hemorrhaging money.

The solution ministers decided on was to find a partner for the money-losing airline. After months of discussions with other airlines, the country’s rail network operator, and even Bennetton, a partner could not be found.

Alitalia A320
Alitalia may have to cut its fleet size by 50%. Photo: Getty Images

The airline should have folded and had its assets sold off in all rights and purposes, yet instead, the government gave it a financial lifeline while it sought aid from the European Union. Not as afraid of making hundreds of people redundant, the EU looked at the books and said that the following things must happen for it to lend assistance.

  • Stop using the Alitalia name
  • Give up slots at Milan Linate Airport (LIN)
  • Sell off the luggage handling side of the business
  • Have maintenance done by third parties and not in-house
  • Drastically cut its fleet size
  • Layoff hundreds of employees

While speaking to reporters before an earlier strike in April, USB transport union member Fabio Frati said that Alitalia workers would not accept layoffs, saying:

“We have become a symbol of this country, a symbol of the sovereignty and independence of this nation.”

Compensation and training

The sad thing about the whole mess is that while Alitalia workers can see the writing on the wall, it won’t sink in. They think that the government would never be so bold as to put so many people out of work. They also believe that any politician who stood up to the unions would fear not being re-elected. Rather than letting Alitalia workers strike and disrupt flights throughout Italy, the government needs to work with the airline regarding compensation packages and retraining.

Alitalia Airbus A330-202 EI-EJK (3)
Plenty of airlines would like to fly the JFK-FCO route. Photo Vicenzo Pace| Simple Flying

What do you think of Alitalia’s latest strike? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments.