Alitalia, Italian govt refute AA, UAL complaint


WASHINGTON -- Alitalia and the Italian government, sharply rebutting a complaint filed against them by American and United, asserted the government did not violate its aviation agreement with the U.S. and therefore the airline should not be penalized.

The upcoming decision by the U.S. Transportation Department could affect some of Alitalias U.S. services.

American and United filed their complaint with the DOT because Italian authorities rejected their request to place their code on European airline partner flights to Milans Linate Airport from other European airports.

Milan is served by two airports: Linate, about six miles from the citys center, and Malpensa, about 29 miles away from the citys center.

The Italian government is trying to promote Malpensa as an intercontinental hub to alleviate congestion at Linate, so it has restricted services to Linate to point-to-point, intra-European Union flights by airlines in European Union member states.

American and United, however, complained that their requests were rejected even though one-stop U.S.-Linate service is offered by Alitalia and its code-share partners, as well as by some European carriers via their European hub airports.

They said the DOT should retaliate by forbidding Alitalia from selling service from the U.S. to Linate.

Alitalia and the Italian government, however, said American and United are misrepresenting what Alitalia and other European carriers are allowed to do.

Those carriers, the government said, are not selling U.S.-Linate services.

Instead, passengers are flying into airports where they can separately book a local flight to Linate.

Precluding these legitimate operations would be completely unwarranted and inconsistent with the international air transport system, the government said. A logical consequence would bring about the exclusion of connections from every other airport of a local character not open to intercontinental services, but from which passengers can legitimately begin or terminate routes, independently choosing the points from which to make international connections.

Alitalia acknowledged that it had displayed for sale its own third-country, code-share service between Linate and the U.S. via Paris with Air France, violating the restrictions.

Alitalia, however, contended that the display of the Air France U.S.-Paris segment in conjunction with Alitalias Paris-Linate flight was the result of technical problems in providing discrete treatment of Linate airport service in [GDS] systems and has been corrected.

To contact reporter Andrew Compart, send e-mail to [email protected].

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