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Italy’s flagship airline Alitalia was forced to ground more than 130 of its flights on Monday, as air traffic controllers across Italy went on a four hour strike, effectively shutting down Italian airspace. The strike started at 1 pm and ended at 5 pm local time. Consequently, most flights going out or coming into Italian airports were either unable to land or depart.
Numerous flights to the United States were delayed substantially including the Milan’s Malpensa (MXP) to New York’s Kennedy Airport (JFK), Alitalia flight 604, which had to depart 4 hours later than scheduled.
As per the unions representing the striking air traffic controllers, workers based in Rome, Brindisi, Padua, and Milan, regions which control most airspace in Italy were participants in the strike. In addition ATC workers from Rome Ciampino, Ancona, Pescara, Brindisi, and Perugia, walked away from their official duties, leaving tens of thousands of airline passengers stranded.
Alitalia was Most Affected Airline
The strikes also impacted a number of flights operating between Italy and the United Kingdom, cancelling some including: Ryanair from London (STN) to Milan Bergamo (BGY) and Manchester (MAN) to Rome Ciampino (CIA), British Airways services from London (LHR and LCY) to Rome (FCO), and services between London Heathrow and Milan Linate (LIN), and London Gatwick (LGW) to Venice (VCE), Alitalia from London (various airports) to Rome and Milan Linate, and EasyJet services from Gatwick to Rome and Milan Linate, London Luton (LTN), Manchester (MAN) to Venice (VCE), Bristol (BRS) to Pisa (PSA).
Jet2 airline was forced to reschedule its flights to enable operations after the strike period. Of all the airlines, Alitalia was affected the most, by the strike action in the aviation industry, with more than 100 of its flights being cancelled during this 4 hour period. The strike by the ATC workers was in protest against increasing job losses in the sector. However, further large-scale job cuts have become likely even as Alitalia is hoping for a financial rescue package.
In similar news, most flights by Finnair were cancelled for Monday in a solidarity strike with workers of Posti, the national postal service.