500 flights scrapped in Italy by 4-hour aviation strikes

ROME (AP) — Several hundred flights were canceled in Italy on Sunday, a peak vacation travel day, because of four-hour walkouts involving employees of low-cost airlines as well as air traffic controllers.

A union official, Fabrizio Cuscito, told Italian state TV that some 500 flights were scrapped. Airline workers are seeking better pay as well as improved working conditions, including meals on long shifts, he said.

The Italian transport ministry said the strikes were called by workers for Ryanair, easyJet and Volotea airlines. That strike began at 2 p.m. (1200 GMT), while the air traffic controllers’ walkout, which also lasted four hours, started an hour earlier.

Compared to airports in other Western European countries, Italy’s airports have experienced less chaos this summer. That’s because in large part when the COVID-19 pandemic paralyzed travel, many airline and airport workers in Italy received government benefits while not working, instead of losing their jobs, as frequently happened in other countries.

When travel demand surged this summer, many airlines and airports couldn’t hire enough workers fast enough to serve the customers.

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