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ROME (Reuters) - An Italian court has ruled that Emirates cannot operate flights directly between Milan Malpensa airport and New York, upholding a legal challenge brought against the Gulf airline by the Italian carrier association Assaereo.
Assaereo, whose biggest member is domestic flagship airline Alitalia, had complained that Italy's civil aviation authority ENAC had granted Emirates the right to extend flights from Dubai to Malpensa onwards to New York's John F Kennedy airport.
According to the court, Assaereo said in a statement on Thursday, the right to use Milan as a stopover cannot be granted to a non-EU operator or a carrier from a country which is neither the port of departure nor destination, which in this case are Italy and the United States.
Emirates is a direct competitor of Etihad, which is in talks with Alitalia for the possible purchase of a large stake in the loss-making Italian carrier.
Emirates, which may appeal the decision, started to fly the Malpensa-New York route in October last year.
(Corrects headline to say Emirates, not Etihad, is barred from route. Corrects last paragraph to say Emirates may appeal decision)
Reporting by Lisa Jucca; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Anthony Barker