Travellers have been waiting, sometimes for hours, to get their bags at Rome's Fiumicino airport this summer, in a major luggage glitch that has caused plenty of embarrassment.
Now, Italy's civil aviation chief Vito Riggio says it is lazy bag handling staff that have been sabotaging the baggage conveyor belts up to 10 times a day, to slow down the fast pace of work and win some lucrative overtime.
Fiumicino temporarily misplaced 7,000 items of luggage a week ago, a problem that Aeroporti di Roma first said was owing to a loss of electrical current.
The company has announced that it will install a better system for loading baggage onto aircraft. But waiting times of more than an hour to collect luggage were still being reported. As many as 110,000 passengers a day pass through the airport.
The airport has demanded a police investigation on the basis of a video that shows chewing gum deliberately stuck on luggage bar code readers, as well as conveyor belts ingeniously immobilised using suitcases, nails or plastic bags.
"How is it possible that at an international airport like Rome there are delinquents who, in order to work less or put in some overtime, send the whole airport into crisis, and cause inconvenience to passengers around the world?" Riggio fumed.
Aeroporti di Roma also manages Rome's low-cost flights airport, Ciampino, where seven luggage handlers working for a contracted handling firm were arrested in April for auctioning jewellery, cameras and mobile phones that they had pilfered from luggage belonging mostly to tourists arriving from the UK.