Alitalia Canceling Hundreds of Flights Because of Tuesday Strike

ROME_Alitalia is canceling nearly 400 flights Tuesday because of a planned eight-hour strike by Alitalia flight attendants and air traffic controllers, the struggling airline said.

Alitalia on Monday listed 394 flights that were expected to be canceled because of the walkout, set to last from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (0800GMT to 1600GMT) Tuesday. A strike by Alitalia flight attendants on May 3 forced the airline to scrap 350 flights.

Unions have been trying to keep up the pressure on the financially ailing flagship airline over contract negotiations.

Scattered cancellations or delays of Alitalia flights have inconvenienced travelers over the last several days when flight crews, insisting that rules regulating the number of crew members and the hours of rest between flights be scrupulously observed, refused to fly. Italian state TV said about 30 flights were canceled on Monday because of the rule-book protest.

Italy's civil aviation authorities called for a meeting Monday evening with airline officials to press for explanations of why the flights did not take off over the last few days.

Strikes, competition from low-cost competitors and high fuel costs have plagued Alitalia, which the government has put up for sale. The Italian government, with a 49.9 percent stake, is the largest stake-holder in the airline.

In separate bad news for travelers in Italy, taxi drivers announced their latest nationwide strike, Italian news reports said. The May 31 strike, like one earlier this month, was called to protest Premier Romano Prodi's efforts to liberalize the taxi sector, with the aim of making more cabs available.