easyJet has been forced to cancel its
inaugural flight between Milan and Olbia due to ENAC’s (Ente Nazionale Aviazione
Civile - the Italian National Civil Aviation Authority) unlawful refusal to allow
easyJet to fly.The Italian authorities objected to easyJet’s new route connecting its base at
Milan Malpensa with Olbia, in Sardinia, thereby reinforcing the monopoly of the
incumbent airline Meridiana, under guise of the Public Service Obligation (PSO).
As a result of this unlawful activity easyJet has filed a legal challenge in the
Italian courts and lodged a complaint with the European Commission. While the court
case is pending, the airline planned to continue to operate the route, taking the
dramatic step of flying all of the passengers for free. This was a perfectly legal
alternative as the European regulation 2408/92 on PSOs clearly states this only
applies to ‘the transport of passengers for remuneration.’
However, this morning, ENAC intervened and prevented easyJet from operating the
service, forcing both the airline to cancel the flight and its 149 passengers to
travel with the monopoly carrier - who had an aircraft prepared especially for the
Speaking at Milan Malpensa Airport today Arnaldo Munoz, General Manager Commercial
for Southern Europe, said:
“Not only is the Italian Government’s attempt to impose a Public Service
Obligation on this attractive route ludicrous - it goes against every PSO principle
and is a clear breach of European law.
But today’s decision by ENAC to prevent easyJet from operating this service at no
charge is also unlawful and a clear example of blind bureaucracy. In order to
sustain their untenable position ENAC is willing to stamp on everything and
everyone, and passengers first of all.
In spite of all the efforts made by easyJet to find an amicable solution to the
benefit of all the parties involved, unfortunately the final decision is now with
the Italian courts.”
Passengers due to travel with easyJet today supported the low-cost airline’s cause
and protested to the Italian officials who prevented them from flying. easyJet has
reimbursed the passengers’ cost of the flight and offered a €100 voucher to be
used on other easyJet flights in the future.