ROME (Reuters) - An Italian court has ruled that Emirates cannot operate flights directly between Milan Malpensa airport and New York, upholding a legal challenge brought against the Gulf airline by the Italian carrier association Assaereo.
Assaereo, whose biggest member is domestic flagship airline Alitalia , had complained that Italy's civil aviation authority ENAC had granted Emirates the right to extend flights from Dubai to Malpensa onwards to New York's John F Kennedy airport.
According to the court, Assaereo said in a statement on Thursday, the right to use Milan as a stopover cannot be granted to a non-EU operator or a carrier from a country which is neither the port of departure nor destination, which in this case are Italy and the United States.
Emirates is a direct competitor of Etihad, which is in talks with Alitalia for the possible purchase of a large stake in the loss-making Italian carrier.
Etihad, which may appeal the decision, started to fly the Malensa-New York route in October last year.
(Reporting by Lisa Jucca; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Anthony Barker)