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Nov 18, 2008

Alitalia slashing 100 flights a day

Alitalia will scrap 100 flights a day until the end of November due to ongoing wildcat strikes by pilots and flight attendants, the airline's bankruptcy administrator said in an interview published Tuesday.

Some Alitalia workers have been causing havoc for over a week with unannounced protests against a plan to sell the carrier to a group of Italian investors.

The company said pilots and flight attendants have been applying job rules strictly or calling in sick, causing delays and forcing hundreds of cancellations.

Alitalia's government-appointed administrator, Augusto Fantozzi, was quoted as saying by La Repubblica daily that the protests were costing Alitalia "millions" of euros each day. The bankrupt carrier is already losing some 2 million euros ($2.5 million) a day.

Fantozzi said Alitalia will cut 100 of its 600 daily trips until the end of the month, when the deal for the airline's sale is expected to be closed.

The administrator stressed that passengers would be reimbursed or put on other flights, and urged travelers to check their trip's status on Alitalia's Web site.

An Alitalia spokesman declined to comment or confirm the figures.

Protesting unions maintain Alitalia is also to blame for the chaos, saying the company is purposely cutting flights to save money.

A group of investors led by Roberto Colaninno, the chairman of scooter-maker Piaggio, has offered to take over Alitalia's profitable assets in a deal worth 1 billion euros ($1.25BN). They plan to scale down on routes and personnel, combining the new Alitalia with Air One, Italy's No. 2 carrier.

The protests began when contract negotiations with some unions broke down. The investors have said they plan to bypass reluctant unions, offering pilots and other crew members individual contracts.

Source : NYTimes
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