EasyJet's plans to launch services on the key Italian business route linking Milan Linate with Rome Fiumicino have suffered a setback after a Rome court halted the allocation of slots to the UK carrier.
Alitalia, the monopoly incumbent on the route, had been required to give up seven slot pairs by the country's competition regulator, which granted them to EasyJet on 25 October.
However, following an appeal from one or more airlines, the Consiglio di Stato court decided on 20 November to suspend the process, pending a further hearing on 22 January 2013.
EasyJet says it is "disappointed" at the enforced delay of the route launch, but adds that it remains confident the court will come down in its favour.
It had planned to begin operating the five times daily services with Airbus A319 aircraft early in 2013. However, assuming it receives a favourable decision, the launch will now be postponed until "early spring".
"We are disappointed there is this delay, but we remain confident that we will be flying on the route early in the new year," it says.
Alitalia declined to comment.