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Flights cancelled in Italy as air traffic controllers strike

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MILAN (Reuters) -Travellers faced disruption across Italy on Wednesday as air traffic controllers went on strike and unions also called out workers from budget airlines on four-hour stoppages, prompting the cancellation of hundreds of flights.

Around 360 flights have been cancelled with over 4,000 passengers affected, a spokesperson for the UIL Trasporti union said on Wednesday.

Passengers across Europe have endured delays and cancellations over the past week as airlines and airports struggle to cope with a rebound in travel at the start of the summer season.

Italian unions FILT-CGIL and UIL Trasporti called a four-hour strike starting from 0800 GMT for Ryanair workers in Italy, complaining about a cut in pay linked to on-board sales and tough labour conditions at Europe's biggest budget airline.

Pilots and flight attendants of easyJet were also striking from 1100 to 1500 GMT.

Ryanair denied that any of its crew had joined in the strikes in Italy but added that it had cancelled a number of flights because of action by air traffic controllers in northern and central Italy.

"These ATC (air traffic control) strikes are completely beyond our control and we sincerely apologise for any inconvenience they will inevitably cause," Ryanair said in a statement.

Flight controllers from Italy's ENAV walked out for 12 hours on Wednesday. EasyJet also blamed the controllers for disruption to its schedules.

"Around 24 flights to and from the UK have been cancelled in advance to mitigate the impact on customers’ plans today and provide the option to rebook before travelling to the airport," easyJet said in a statement,

Italy's ITA Airways had re-routed approximately 99% of its passengers to avoid the strike, the airline said in a statement.

Ryanair ranked first for the number of passengers travelling to and from Italy last year as Alitalia shrunk its network before handing over to smaller successor ITA.

(Reporting by Sabina Suzzi and Keith Weir, Editing by Louise Heavens, Kirsten Donovan)

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