(By Paul Virgo)
ROME - Trade unions representing Alitalia workers said Friday that they will stage a one-day strike on April 5 after a meeting with management on a plan to turn the struggling airline around. The plan features over 2,000 job losses among ground staff.
"We confirm the strike, it will be on April 5," said Claudio Tarlazzi of the UIL Trasporti union.
The plan also entails the hiring of up to 500 flight personnel - cabin crew and pilots - from 2019.
It also will see the former flag carrier buy eight new aircraft between 2017 and 2021, on top of one that went into use last month, for around 10 new long-haul routes. The aim is to boost revenues and reduce costs in order to achieve profitability by 2019.
"Headcount reductions are a painful but necessary action that, alongside other cost reductions, will stabilise our financial situation and create long-term sustainability," said Alitalia CEO Cramer Ball after presenting the plan approved by the board on Wednesday.
"These changes are essential if we are to compete effectively in the extremely tough European aviation market. "Together with trade unions, and with the support of the Italian government, we will work respectfully and fairly at ways in which to minimise the impact of the business plan on our people".
The airline currently employs 12,500 people around the world.
Earlier this week Industry Minister Carlo Calenda and Transport Minister Graziano Delrio said that the plan "contains numerous elements to be examined and requires very swift implementation".
Alitalia also said Friday that 40% of its national and international flights scheduled for Monday will be cancelled due to industrial action by some unions representing air-traffic controllers. Several unions are set to take action between 13:00 and 17:00 while that CUB Trasporti union is set to strike all day.
The airline said it has taken special measures to minimise inconvenience to its customers, by rebooking passengers affected by cancellations on the first available flights, if possible on the same day.