Italy’s national carrier Alitalia has announced the cancellation of 142 flights scheduled for Tuesday due to strike action by part of its staff.
The strike, called by the Filt Cigl union, will be held between 11am and 3pm local time.
Alitalia chief executive Cramer Ball said in a letter to passengers on Monday that the airline’s staff was protesting against the ending of certain employee benefits, which allowed them to travel for free from different parts of Italy to get to or from their bases in Rome or Milan.
According to Mr Ball, these are “free flights” which have so far benefited mainly a minority of the staff.
“The trade unions have declared a strike after that we confirmed our intention to cancel such privileges, in line with the other airlines in Europe and in the rest of the world. That’s why I find the actions of the trade unions incomprehensible and unjust”, he added.
On its part, the Fit-Cisl labour union referred to an “attack” on the rights of workers.
“The strike, the first in many years, is related to the living and working conditions of those who have been affected by previous business decisions,” Nino Cortorillo, the union’s secretary, said. “Working hours have risen while the procedure used for redundancies, in our opinion, is outside of the norms.”
Alitalia has extended the period of rebooking tickets up to October 29, 2016. For more information, press here.
Meanwhile, around 20 flights operated by another Italian airline, Meridiana, have also been cancelled.
According to AFP, the carrier has seen a surge in staff calling in sick since the conclusion of an agreement last week to cut 396 flights from its schedules immediately as part of efforts to secure a last-chance partnership with Qatar Airways.