Alitalia sets for strike in the face of financial crisis

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Italian national carrier Alitalia faces a strike by multiple trade unions and professional associations Feb. 23 that will force it to cancel 60% of flights that day.

The walkout by unions representing some pilots, cabin crews and other staff will last for 24 hours, while other groups plan a more limited, four-hour walkout. The strike is being planned despite the airline being at a “critical” stage, according to its CEO, and in dire need of a more sustainable financial base.

Alitalia declined to go into reasons for the dispute, but Italy’s national news agency ANSA said the unions described the strike as “the only democratic tool to safeguard workers’ rights at this time.”

The Italian national carrier is losing money heavily and is trying to find ways of cutting costs. Job cuts are anticipated, which has angered several unions. The airline has to present a new business plan to government ministers by the end of this month.

Alitalia said Feb.21 that flights scheduled to operate during the peak periods of 7 a.m.-10 a.m. and 6 p.m.-9 p.m. on Feb. 23 would do so. Passengers whose flights were disrupted by the dispute would be rebooked onto the first available services.

Additionally, the airline plans to operate larger-than-normal aircraft on several domestic and international routes on Feb. 23, in order to make maximum use of flights it is able to operate.

Alitalia has said it needs to improve its existing financial position in order to secure continued support from its major shareholders. CEO Cramer Ball said in December 2016 that the next two months were “critical” and that “radical changes” were needed at the company.

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