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14 May 2014
Earlier this year, Assaereo (the Italian Air Carrier Association) challenged the authorisation granted by ENAC (the Italian Civil Aviation Authority) to Emirates in respect of slots and traffic rights to extend the airline's daily flights from Dubai to Milan Malpensa Airport onwards to New York John F Kennedy International Airport for an 18-month period from October 1 2013 (for further details please see "Fifth freedom rights of Gulf carriers face court challenge"). The challenge was filed before the Lazio Administrative Court and claimed that the authorisation breached the Chicago Convention, Italian law and the bilateral agreement between Italy and the United Arab Emirates (signed in Abu Dhabi on April 3 1991).
After the respective briefs were filed and a hearing was held on January 30 2014 to discuss the merits of the case, the court agreed with the grounds pointed out in Assaereo's challenge and accordingly declared Emirates' ENAC authorisation null and void for the following reasons:
"No scheduled international air service may be operated over or into the territory of a contracting State, except with the special permission or other authorization of that State, and in accordance with the terms of such permission or authorization."
"In order to keep the occupational levels and the international connections necessary to develop the production and social system of the involved areas, the Ministry of Transport and the Foreign Ministry promote the execution of new air transport bilateral agreements, and the amendment of the existing ones, so to extend the number of carriers operating on national and international routes. Pending the finalisation of such new agreements, and the amendment of the existing ones, ENAC can grant temporary authorisations lasting not less than 18 months."
In this respect, the court noted that as of the date of the ENAC authorisation granted to Emirates (on March 5 2013), there were no pending negotiations between the Italian and UAE governments for the modification of the 1991 bilateral agreement.
Emirates appealed the decision before the Supreme Administrative Court, first requesting suspension of its validity and then – on the merits – confirmation of the ENAC authorisation previously granted to it. Pending the final decision on the merits, the Supreme Administrative Court allowed the suspension of the Lazio Administrative Court decision to secure the continuation of flight operations from Milan to New York.
For further information on this topic please contact Laura Pierallini at Studio Legale Pierallini e Associati by telephone (+39 06 88 41 713), fax (+39 06 88 40 249) or email (email@example.com). The Studio Legale Pierallini e Associati website can be accessed at www.studiopierallini.it.
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