Italy's antitrust authority has ruled that Italy's flagship carrier Alitalia must give up seven slots on its monopoly Rome-Milan route to competitor EasyJet.
The ruling overturns an ad hoc legislative decree that amended the suspended antitrust laws in 2008, allowing Alitalia an attempt to salvage its leading position in the Italian market and repay a government bridge loan of 300 million euros to the then almost insolvent carrier.
Probes carried out last April by the antitrust authorities that led to the ruling said that there is "a lack of proper competition between rail and air transport" and that Alitalia was running a monopoly.
The airline said that it lost 2 million passengers and 50% of its earnings in the space of three years as a result of high-speed rail companies like the Frecciarossa, effectively confirming the competitive threat.
However, Alitalia's third-quarter results released Thursday showed a net profit of 27 million euros in contrast to second-quarter losses of 70 million euros and total revenues up 4% to 1.126 billion euros from 1.080 billion earned in the same period in 2011. The slots apply especially to "peak transit hours in the morning and evening," the antitrust authority said.