Ex-Alitalia flight attendants strip off uniforms to their undergarments in pay protest

Dozens of former flight attendants from defunct Italian airline Alitalia stripped off their uniforms yesterday, wearing only undergarments in a silent, choreographed protest in central Rome.

They were protesting job losses and the working conditions for the ex-Alitalia staff that were re-hired by ITA Airways, the new airline that bought the Alitalia brand.  

Long financially ailing, Italy‘s decades-old Alitalia airline flew its last flight on October 14. ITA began flying the next day, using some of Alitalia’s aircraft.

Dozens of former flight attendants from Alitalia stripped off their uniforms in a protest in central Rome

Dozens of former flight attendants from Alitalia stripped off their uniforms in a protest in central Rome

Dozens of former flight attendants from Alitalia stripped off their uniforms in a protest in central Rome

ITA, or Italy Air Transport, is taking on fewer than 3,000 of Alitalia´s 10,000 employees. It launched with 2,800 employees – 70 per cent of which are from Alitalia – and says it expects to increase the size of its workforce to 5,750 by 2025.

Union officials say those who will work for ITA are being hired at significantly lower pay scales. Union leaders have also been pressing for the government to extend unemployment benefits for as long as five years.

Some 50 former flight attendants stood in rows in a square atop Rome´s Capitoline Hill, lowered their company shoulder bags to the cobblestone pavement, then slowly and in synch, removed their overcoats, then uniform jackets, then skirts, then stepped out of their high-heeled shoes.

The former flight attendants removed their overcoats, then uniform jackets, then skirts, and then stepped out of their high-heeled shoes

The former flight attendants removed their overcoats, then uniform jackets, then skirts, and then stepped out of their high-heeled shoes

The former flight attendants removed their overcoats, then uniform jackets, then skirts, and then stepped out of their high-heeled shoes

The former crewmembers were protesting job losses and the working conditions for the ex-Alitalia staff that were re-hired by ITA Airways

The former crewmembers were protesting job losses and the working conditions for the ex-Alitalia staff that were re-hired by ITA Airways

The former crewmembers were protesting job losses and the working conditions for the ex-Alitalia staff that were re-hired by ITA Airways

The protest comes just days after Italy's decades-old Alitalia airline flew its last flight

The protest comes just days after Italy's decades-old Alitalia airline flew its last flight

The protest comes just days after Italy’s decades-old Alitalia airline flew its last flight

They remained barefoot, wearing only a slip, in silence for a few minutes. Then they carefully gathered up their garments and shoes and together shouted: ‘We are Alitalia!’

ITA paid 90million euros (around £75million) for the rights to the Alitalia brand and website.

‘Discontinuity doesn´t mean denying the past, but evolving to keep up with the times,’ ITA President Alfredo Altavilla said in a statement.

During a conference launching the airline last week, Altavilla insisted that the greatly reduced size of ITA – its slimmer fleet, workforce and destinations – make it a viable carrier that can compete with low-cost airlines while offering better service, connections and value.

‘ITA Airways is being born right-sized, in the optimal dimensions both in terms of the size of its fleet and its destinations,’ he said. ‘We don´t carry with us the negative inheritance of being too big that conflict with the economic reality.’

Some 50 former flight attendants stood in rows in a square atop Rome's Capitoline Hill during the protest

Some 50 former flight attendants stood in rows in a square atop Rome's Capitoline Hill during the protest

 Some 50 former flight attendants stood in rows in a square atop Rome’s Capitoline Hill during the protest 

ITA Airways, which launched last week, is taking on fewer than 3,000 of Alitalia's 10,000 employees

ITA Airways, which launched last week, is taking on fewer than 3,000 of Alitalia's 10,000 employees

ITA Airways, which launched last week, is taking on fewer than 3,000 of Alitalia’s 10,000 employees  

Union officials say ITA is hiring former Alitalia staff at significantly lower pay scales

Union officials say ITA is hiring former Alitalia staff at significantly lower pay scales

 Union officials say ITA is hiring former Alitalia staff at significantly lower pay scales

After remaining silent for a few minutes, the former flight attendants together shouted: 'We are Alitalia’

After remaining silent for a few minutes, the former flight attendants together shouted: 'We are Alitalia’

Union leaders have been pressing for the Italian government to extend unemployment benefits for ex-Alitalia staff for as long as five years

Union leaders have been pressing for the Italian government to extend unemployment benefits for ex-Alitalia staff for as long as five years

After remaining silent for a few minutes, the former flight attendants together shouted: ‘We are Alitalia.’ Union leaders have been pressing for the Italian government to extend unemployment benefits for ex-Alitalia staff for as long as five years

He bristled when asked about reported predictions by low-cost carriers of ITA Airways’ failure.

‘They might be very, absolutely right that this is gonna be difficult for us, but I am really curious to see one day their PnL (Profits and Loss) and their balance sheet without all the subsidies that they are getting from the local institutions and the small airports here in Italy,’ Altavilla said. ‘I want a level playing field.’

ITA Airways revealed that its brand and logo would recycle the red, white and green of its Alitalia origins .

Fabio Lazzerini, left, CEO of new national carrier ITA, poses with President Alfredo Altavilla during the launch in Rome

Fabio Lazzerini, left, CEO of new national carrier ITA, poses with President Alfredo Altavilla during the launch in Rome

Fabio Lazzerini, left, CEO of new national carrier ITA, poses with President Alfredo Altavilla during the launch in Rome 

A rendering shows an Airbus A330 passenger airplane bearing the future livery of new Italian airline company ITA Airways

A rendering shows an Airbus A330 passenger airplane bearing the future livery of new Italian airline company ITA Airways

A rendering shows an Airbus A330 passenger airplane bearing the future livery of new Italian airline company ITA Airways

ITA planes will be royal blue with Alitalia´s trademark ‘tricolore’ on the tail, reflecting the red, white and green of the Italian flag. The Italian national sports team colours are blue, and company officials said that the colour scheme chosen for the new aircraft aims to make ITA ‘azzurri’ – the team nickname [The Blues] – too.

For now, the new blue Airbus aircraft exists only in advertisements, with Alitalia´s old white fleet actually in the skies.

ITA has 52 planes that it says will grow to 105 and is pointing to next-generation aircraft that use sustainable, alternative fuel sources.

Pictured is ITA Airways' first Airbus A320. The airline is starting out with a fleet of 52 aircraft

Pictured is ITA Airways' first Airbus A320. The airline is starting out with a fleet of 52 aircraft

Pictured is ITA Airways’ first Airbus A320. The airline is starting out with a fleet of 52 aircraft

The first ITA flight was the 6.20 am from Milan´s Linate airport to the Italian city of Bari, on the Adriatic Sea. In all, ITA is flying to 44 destinations and aims to increase that number to 74 in four years.

Among its routes, the company plans to operate flights to New York from Milan and Rome, and to Tokyo, Boston and Miami from Rome. European destinations from Rome and Milan´s Linate airport will also include Paris, London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Geneva and Frankfurt. Routes to South America and Los Angeles are planned.

Officials were coy about possible partnerships with other airlines. Previously, Alitalia was a member of the SkyTeam alliance, which included Delta, Air France and KLM, among other airlines.

Link hienalouca.com

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