Italy air transport strike grounds hundreds of flights

Italy's strike left some 250,000 travellers stranded in one of the world's top tourist spots [Gabriel Bouys/AFP]

Some 1,000 domestic and international flights were cancelled as a result of the strike by ground crew.

Tourists across Italy will have to change their holiday plans as hundreds of flights were cancelled amid an air transport strike two days after a train work stoppage.

While disruptive actions by transport unions often take place during summertime – a peak season for Italy – the strike on Saturday from 10am to 6pm (from 08:00 to 16:00 GMT) is held amid a tourism boom following two years of pandemic losses.

Some 1,000 flights, both domestic and international, were cancelled as a result of the strike by ground crew, who are demanding a new collective contract, six years after the previous one expired, according to airport and airline authorities.

Another 120 flights due to depart and arrive from Belgium’s Charleroi airport were cancelled Saturday and Sunday, triggered by a walkout of budget carrier Ryanair pilots over working conditions.

Italy’s strike alone left some 250,000 travellers stranded in one of the world’s top tourist spots. It comes amid a record heatwave, billed by the national weather service as “one of the most intense of all time”, that would bring temperatures of at least 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) to Rome and 48C (118F) to the islands of Sicily and Sardinia.

National carrier ITA said it cancelled 133 flights, most of them domestic but a few were to European destinations such as Madrid, Amsterdam and Barcelona.

Striking workers included pilots, flight attendants, baggage handlers and airport personnel.

Naples’ airport website showed dozens of flights cancelled starting at 10am (08:00 GMT).

Transport minister Matteo Salvini called on the strikers to exercise “common sense” so as “not to harm millions of other workers and tourists”.

Labour unions Filt Cgil, Uiltrasporti and Ugl Trasporto said they called the strike over “absolutely unsatisfactory” contract disagreements with Malta Air, which operates Ryanair flights. Ryanair posted a note on its website apologising for cancellations and other disruptions due to the strike that is “beyond our control”.

On Thursday, commuters and tourists were stranded at sweltering train stations across the country as a strike by rail workers crippled services including high-speed trains that are usually guaranteed.



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