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Europe

EU Criticizes Italy's Protection of Alitalia

Restrictions on intercontinental flight prices have raised disagreement between Italian and British airlines.

The EU criticized Italy for ordering European airlines to stop undercutting its struggling Alitalia airline on long-haul routes from Rome on Monday. "Restricting prices is against the spirit of the internal market," European Commission Spokesman Stefaan de Rynck said. However, there is not much the EU can do about it: Rome's move appears to be covered by old bilateral treaties. The discussion follows a complaint by British Airways to the Brussels executive, saying Italy is acting unfairly. The Italian aviation agency, Enac, believes it was fully within its right to prevent foreign companies from undercutting Alitalia prices on certain routes, agency Chairman Vito Riggio told the BBC. Enac also said the request was made to 40 airlines, and only British Airways refused to comply. Competition between EU carriers on flights within the EU is unrestricted under single market rules, but the flights in question involved routes from Rome to New York. (EUobserver.com)

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