EasyJet has launched services between Milan Linate and Rome Fiumicino, rivaling Alitalia on one of its core trunk routes.

The UK budget carrier won rights to operate the route in October 2012 after Italian competition authority Autorita Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) ordered an end Alitalia’s monopoly on the route. Alitalia serves Milan-Rome up to 30 times daily.

From March 25 easyJet will initially operate twice-daily Airbus A319 services on the route, increasing to five frequencies daily from April 8. It is expecting to carry 350,000 passengers annually on the service, joining its network of 14 domestic Italian routes.

In 2012 easyJet carried over 12.5 million passengers on its Italian routes, up 9.4% year-on-year. It flies from 17 Italian airports and has 24 aircraft based in Italy, 18 at Milan Malpensa and six at Rome Fiumicino. The UK budget carrier employs 870 people in Italy.