First strike hits new Alitalia


ROME — A union representing flight attendants, ground workers and pilots was staging the first strike against the new Alitalia on Monday, a week after the privatized airline took off.

The four-hour strike by the SDL union was called to protest against hiring policies at the new Italian carrier and began at 10 a.m. (0900GMT). Alitalia said it had not canceled any flights before the walkout.

Wildcat protests at Rome and Milan airports marred the launch of the new Alitalia last Tuesday, causing some delays and cancellations, but Monday’s was the first official strike of the new era.

Alitalia’s 62 years as a state-run company ended in bankruptcy, partly due to frequent strikes and an oversized work force that union weight made nearly impossible to cut.

The new Alitalia is a private company owned by a group of Italian investors who have merged much of the old carrier’s profitable assets with the much smaller Air One. Air France-KLM is a minority shareholder.

The new Alitalia is slimmer than its predecessor, with 148 aircraft from both airlines combined, compared with 173 in the old fleet, and about 12,500 employees, down from more than 23,500 between the two airlines.