Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 November 2019

Alitalia pilots and flight crew set strike for July 20

Italy's pilots and flight attendants call for a strike on July 20 to protest exclusion from talks at transport ministry on Etihad-Alitalia deal.
Up to 2,250 of Alitalia staff are expected to go under Etihad Airways’ downsizing demand. Vincenzo Pinto / AFP
Up to 2,250 of Alitalia staff are expected to go under Etihad Airways’ downsizing demand. Vincenzo Pinto / AFP

Italy’s pilots and flight attendants belonging to three labour unions have called for a strike on July 20 to protest against their exclusion from talks on the Etihad-Alitalia deal.

The Abu Dhabi carrier has been in discussions to acquire a 49 per cent stake in ailing Alitalia.

The Italian government yesterday also met Alitalia representatives, bank creditors and investors to finalise the deal.

The members of labour unions Anpac, Avia and Anpav that represent pilots and crew in Italy have called for a 24-hour strike across all airlines operating in the country, according to the Italian press, citing a joint statement from the unions yesterday.

The country’s transport ministry is in talks with Etihad and trade confederations to try to reduce the proposed job cuts to 1,500 from 2,250, according to Bloomberg. The carrier employs 14,000 people.

The government, which is acting as a moderator, has convened trade union confederations, “unrepresentative of the flight crew of Alitalia”, said the joint statement.

While Etihad declined to comment, Alitalia did not immediately respond to emails.

The labour issues will be a big challenge for Etihad, according to analysts.

“It’s bad enough Etihad has to contend with Alitalia’s poor structural and financial performance, the true test will be winning over Alitalia’s striking staff, which will not be an easy feat,” said Saj Ahmad, the chief analyst at Strategic-Aero Research.“The terms of the initial agreement may change, thus affecting the outcome of performance in the long term.”

Alitalia has little choice but to accept sweeping reforms to bolster its longevity if it wants to go ahead, Mr Ahmad added.

The agreement is in the final stages as it works on finalising documents and getting regulatory, shareholder and board approvals.

Job losses followed after Etihad bought stakes in Air Serbia and Air Seychelles. In August, Etihad won control over a 49 per cent equity stake in Air Serbia, formerly known as Jat Airways, and shed 333 jobs to about 970 as it pledged US$40 million to the carrier.

In 2012, Etihad acquired a 40 per cent stake in Air Seychelles, and bagged a US$65 million, five-year management contract. The workforce was stripped by about 250 jobs, to around 550.

Also yesterday, Alitalia and Etihad were named as the official global airline carriers for Expo 2015 in Milan from May 1 to October 31. The event is expected to attract 20 million visitors, with 8 million from abroad. The carriers together will offer about 100 flights a day to and from Milan.


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Updated: July 2, 2014 04:00 AM