Court Rules on New York-Milan Route Operated by Emirates

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Per this WSJ article, an Italian Court Rules Against Emirates’ Milan-New York Airline route.

Currently Emirates operates their Milan-New York route but since the carrier based is based in the United Arab Emirates it technically should not be allowed to operate this route. It would have to be based either in Italy or the United States to operate this route.


The ruling, made by an administrative court in Rome, was a response to a complaint filed by Assaereo, an association that represents Alitalia and other Italian airlines.

Emirates is expected to appeal the Italian court’s ruling, according to a person involved in the case. It remained unclear whether it would have to suspend the New York service in the meantime.

Besides Emirates, Alitalia, American, and Delta all offer non-stop service between New York (JFK) and Milan.

Other US airlines are taking note:

According to Delta, they “welcome the decision by the TAR Lazio that the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) improperly granted permission to Emirates Airlines to operate nonstop service between Milan and John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.  The TAR Lazio decision makes it clear that Emirates, which is based in the United Arab Emirates, is not authorized to operate this nonstop service.

The Emirates route provides no additional benefit for travelers, who are already well-served by Italian and U.S. carriers between Milan and New York, and could significantly harm U.S. and Italian airline employees by adding unneeded capacity on an already-competitive market.”

Bottom Line

What’s your opinion? Should Emirates be able to operate their Milan to New York (JFK) route or should they have to suspend the service?

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  1. I think competition is always good for the customer. Imagine if you could fly Singapore or Lufthansa LAX-JFK. Who would fly any of our legacy carriers? I would personally much rather have the option to give my money to the airline of my choice regardless of the origin and destination. It would leave fewer carriers, but it would also increase the quality of service. Airlines should really have to compete for our money–we shouldn’t have to make due with subpar services because of some overly-protective rules.

  2. It’s a free market economy. If the airlines and the governments or airports can make it work. Let’s let it happen. The client (us) are the ones that win. We get competition so hopefully lovers costs, and in this case a very superior airline to fly.

  3. Yes, more competition is always better, but when there are rules that restrict competition (as there are in EVERY major country on the planet and on almost every international route between them) those rules should be enforced consistently and fairly. As for whether the fifth freedom rule apply for Emirates, that depends on whether any bilateral trade agreements secured previously between Italy and UAE include such rights–which is doubtful.

    In the absence of a fifth freedom option, the Emirates flight violates the rules–and needs to be eliminated. Until Italy and UAE negotiate a different trade agreement that would permit such a flight, of course.

  4. As I see this, Emirates is providing service between Dubai and Milan with continuing service to New York. It seems like a pretty obvious Fifth Freedom route, similar to Cathay’s service from Vancouver to New York.

  5. Literally in security line at JFK to board this flight purchased with TYPs when I opened BA and this post. Certainly hoping there’s no suspension of the route, though I guess we’d get a lot of miles if they have to route us through Dubai.

  6. I agree with Scott. If it were a nonstop flight within Italy (Milan to Rome or Milan to Sicily) then the case may be different.

  7. I flew the route on EK and the service/quality/experience/plane/IFE (especially)/price were far superior to those of Alitalia, Delta, AA. Seeing as Etihad is close to signing a deal with Alitalia to purchase a 40+% share into the company, I find it quite suspicious that this ruling has been announced now. James Hogan was meeting with the Renzi (PM of Italy) this week which makes one wonder if the purchase has anything to do with the ruling. Will Etihad soon be making Abu Dhabi-Milan-JFK flights? I think so.

  8. Emirates makes the other airlines look like crap, that is why the want to prevent them from flying to Milano. I flew the JFK to Milano route several times since they started the service and there is no comparison with the other airlines. It is quite obvious that they cannot compete and that they will do everything to prevent them from operating to avoid loosing market share that they own by default.

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