February 19, 2008 / 11:41 AM / 11 years ago

Milan airports staff strike, 146 flights cancelled

MILAN, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Some 146 flights at Milan’s airports were cancelled on Tuesday when ground staff went on strike to protest against Alitalia’s AZPIa.MI plans to scale back its presence in northern Italy.

Airport sources said 102 flights were cancelled at Malpensa airport, one of Alitalia’s two hubs, and 44 at Linate, Milan’s smaller airport, during the four-hour stoppage.

Money-losing Alitalia, which is in talks to be bought by Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA), plans to cut its daily flights from Malpensa to 105 a day from 360 from April 1, downgrading the airport’s hub status in favour of Rome.

Airport operator SEA said on its Web site that flights could be delayed or cancelled because of the strike.

Italy is selling its 49.9 percent stake in Alitalia but last month’s collapse of Prime Minister Romano Prodi’s centre-left government has raised questions over whether an agreement can be sealed.

The strike was due to end at 1300 GMT. Thousands of demonstrators gathered outside Malpensa on Sunday to protest against the scaleback plan. (Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; editing by Sue Thomas)

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