Pilots In Italy Protest Airspace Shutdown

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Aviators in the U.S. who received forwarded e-mails from AOPA-Italy in the last few days soliciting contributions may have thought it was a scam -- the e-mail offered a bank account number for direct deposits, or suggested that readers "please call Antonella from Tuesday to Friday... giving us your credit card number." But although the e-mails may seem suspect, the appeal is legitimate, AOPA-Italia President Massimo Levi told AVweb on Tuesday. "Unfortunately, it is a very serious issue," Levi said in an e-mail. AOPA-Italia sent the e-mails to its local membership, and then they apparently were forwarded widely. Levi said a large chunk of the country's airspace has been closed to VFR traffic because of a financial dispute between Italy's aeronautics agency and its air force. The plea to its membership brought in the $20,000 AOPA-Italia needed to go to court against what Levi calls "an illegal administrative act." He wrote: "Italian pilots gave us the money in less than a week ... and we are now ready to fight!"

Levi said the issue has been picked up in the national news, "and this disturbed considerably our authorities; so much that we have been invited to 'discuss' the change of the Notams." He hopes that meetings will take place within a week or so.