MILAN, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Italy's top administrative court has given Emirates permission to continue operating direct flights between Milan Malpensa airport and New York, rejecting a request by rival airlines to stop the flights.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Council of State said its decision rejected a legal challenge brought against the Gulf airline by Italian carrier association Assaereo and flagship carrier Alitalia.
Assaereo and Alitalia had claimed that, as a non-European carrier, Emirates should not be allowed to fly out of Italy on the transatlantic route.
An Italian court had initially backed their case and barred Emirates from flying on the New York-Milan route.
Emirates is a direct competitor of Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, which bought a 49 percent stake in Alitalia earlier this year.
Being allowed to fly on the Milan-New York route means Emirates competes directly with Alitalia, which is focusing on expanding its long-haul flights after the tie-up with Etihad. (Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Mark Potter)