Hundreds Of Flights Cancelled Ahead Of Alitalia Strike

Beleaguered flag carrier Alitalia has cancelled half of its weekly manifest of flights due to a promised strike by pilots and cabin crews tomorrow (09/10/19).

Alitalia jet on taxiway
Over 200 Alitalia flights cancelled due to this week’s strike. Photo: Alitalia

The strike has been called by a glut of transport unions opposed to the Italian government’s laxity in respect of the demise of Alitalia. The industrial action is also an attempt, according to The Local, to highlight, “deteriorating conditions in the sector.”

Alitalia (part-owned by Etihad Airways) cancelled around 200 flights in total, international and national. It did so in the lead up to the strike, which is thought likely to encroach operations today and Thursday.

The Italian General Confederation of Labor voted to strike to protest against the government’s reluctance to choose one of the numerous bids to rescue Alitalia. The strike also has at its heart a general complaint about working conditions within the transport sector, and laborers’ contractual policies.

We have contacted Alitalia for further comment but have not yet received a reply.

Bankruptcy

In April of 2017 Alitalia announced its need to begin a process of liquidation. Writes Bloomberg, that announcement was made when efforts to salvage the airline by imposing redundancies failed to garner support.

easyJet was the first company to put forward an expression of interest in June. It was followed a few months later by Delta Air Lines and Italian railway company Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane.

Ryanair also announced its interest, but its bid to take over this part of the world was stymied by its own domestic troubles.

Alitalia jet on taxiway
Expression of interest on the table but the Italian government is not for rushing. Photo: Alitalia

Fast forward to March of this year and the departure of easyJet from the running. That left Delta, Ferrovie dello Stato, transport group Atlantia and latecomer China Eastern as potential owners of Alitalia. Each were willing to put forward a stake in order to save the company.

And therein is the crux of the matter in respect of the strike: the government has four viable businesses in the running for a share of Alitalia, but refuses to be drawn on a choice.

Furthermore, the Executive gives no reassurance about how any restructuring post-relaunch will affect Alitalia’s workforce. Nor can it say when or if matters can be resolved in time to prevent the company from going under.

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Instead, the government continues to aid Alitalia financially and cites differences among the potential investors as a reason for the logjam.

Adding to the uncertainties, a bridging loan of 900 million Euros paid to Alitalia by the Italian government in 2017 is being investigated by the EU’s anti-trust regulator.

The rise of Air Italy

Further furrowing Alitalia’s brow, NKOTB Air Italy (previously Meridiana) has hit the ground running and has every intention to be the country’s new Number One airline.

Air Italy jet in flight
Air Italy grows as Alitalia shrinks. Photo: Air Italy

Since its re-emergence in 2018 Air Italy as pushed ever closer to air supremacy. It makes no secret of the fact that it aims to replace Alitalia by 2022. Now with Qatar in tow, the prospect looks ever more likely. Especially in light of the problems encountered by the state carrier.

Writes The Local, Air Italy’s expansion of both fleet and routes is ambitious: a fleet of 50 aircraft by 2020, including Dreamliners and MAXs, and 10 million passengers two years later.

Alitalia may recently have announced its brand-new routing between Rome and San Francisco, but Air Italy got there first. And the move of the former looks suspiciously like a death throe.

Clearly, Air Italy has every intention to bolster its domestic and international network, even at the expense of Alitalia’s fortunes.

Further information

Most of the 200 Alitalia flights canceled are domestic Italian services. Passengers booking with Alitalia this week are advised to check the status of their flight before leaving for the airport.

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