easyJet has welcomed the European
Commission’s decision to limit the abuse of Public Service Obligation
(PSO) routes in Italy.The decision follows official complaints by
easyJet and other airlines against an Italian decree that was imposed
last year to create monopolies on the 16 most important routes between
mainland Italy and Sardinia.
Arnaldo Munoz, Regional Manager Southern Europe, commented on the
“We are pleased with this decision and congratulate the European
Commission for limiting this attempt to give state aid through the
back-door to a few airlines. This decision will bring the Italian
consumer more choice, lower fares and better service. Tourism in
Sardinia will also benefit, as more visitors will be able to reach the
island throughout the year. However, the decision should have been more
ambitious, in that it should have expressly disallowed PSOs on routes
where there is sufficient competition.
We urge on the Italian Government to accept this decision and to refrain
from introducing another decree to impose monopolies on domestic routes.
Airlines and regulators should now work together to establish
competition on routes to Sardinia as soon as possible.”
easyJet had announced its intentions to operate flights from Milan to
Olbia as part of its expansion at its base at Milan Malpensa that was
opened in March 2006. In response to this, the Italian Civil Aviation
Authority (ENAC) took the unprecedented step of writing to easyJet to
request that the airline stopped selling seats on the route, as part of
its plans to impose Public Service Obligation (PSO) status on the route.
easyJet submitted a formal complaint against the Italian authorities to
the European Commission for anti-competitive behaviour in March 2006,
which led to the Commission’s investigation.
easyJet has been a reliable partner for the autonomous region of
Sardinia, providing services from London, Berlin and Geneva and soon
also Basle that have boosted tourism in Sardinia.