THE BATTLE BETWEEN Italian flag carrier Alitalia and its pilots is intensifying, with another round of strikes announced for 23 June.

This will have a further impact on Alitalia's balance sheet, which, so far this year, has suffered a reversal of some L50 billion ($30 million), according to the airline's management.

No figure can be put to the considerable damage, which is being done to Alitalia's reputation as a result of this continuing dispute, which erupted when the airline began operating two Boeing 767s on wet lease from Australian carrier Ansett for use on transatlantic routes.

Alitalia is planning to invest up to L900 billion in the Malpensa 2000 project, to develop Milan's second airport as a long-range hub to serve northern Italian cities. If there are further delays to the troubled airport-development project, Alitalia may be forced to boost services at Milan-Linate, or look for other alternatives.

Source: Flight International