EasyJet moves ahead with Italy plans after court ruling

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EasyJet's plans to grow its presence in Italy have been bolstered by the decision of an Italian appeal court to uphold the award of rights on a key domestic business route to the low-cost carrier.

The ruling by the Consiglio di Stato court on 23 January confirms the grant of seven slot pairs on the Milan Linate-Rome Fiumicino route to EasyJet, allowing it to break the stranglehold of monopoly incumbent Alitalia on services between the two cities.

Italy's competition regulator had initially handed EasyJet the route in October 2012, but this was temporarily halted a month later following a challenge by rival carriers Meridiana Fly and Alitalia.

Frances Ouseley, EasyJet country director Italy, says: "EasyJet is extremely satisfied with this judgment. We have always been confident that the Council of State would confirm the competition authority's decision."

It has yet to offer a precise date for the launch of the five-times-per-day service, which it will operate with Airbus A319s, but says it will aim to start "as soon as possible".

Alitalia declined to comment.