Norwegian is USA’s new ‘Gulf’ target

Politicians unite in latest transatlantic battle
Norwegian is the new ‘Gulf’ target in the transatlantic battle, Karen Walker writes in a blog on ATW. Opposition in the US to the carrier launching more routes is huge.
Last month’s announcement by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) that Norwegian’s Irish (and therefore EU) subsidiary Norwegian Air International (NAI) should be granted a foreign carrier permit has not yet opened up the American skies for the airline.
Opponents are making good use of a period given for objections to be filed. Originally this was due to close on May 6 but was extended by 10 days. A further seven days will follow for responses, putting the earliest date for the process to close at May 23.
US lawmakers from both parties are uniting to create a bill to stop the DOT from issuing a permit. Most recently, media are reporting that even left-wing presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has entered the fray.
“Norwegian Air International’s attempts to undermine international labor laws by outsourcing cheap labor from Thailand and other low-wage countries is unacceptable. The US Department of Transportation should not reward this carrier with a license that will allow it to undercut the pay and conditions of employment that employees have in the airlines in this country,” a statement from Sanders says.
Walker writes that it is likely unions and opponents are buying time to gain congressional support. It could also point to a fundamental questioning of US Open Skies, a policy that has opened international markets to US airlines and vice versa.
“The campaign against NAI now looks increasingly similar to the almost-fizzled campaign against the Gulf carriers,” she says. “There, too, the opportunities were available to both sides – in the US as well as in the UAE and Qatar – through Open Skies agreements with those Gulf countries. […] With recognition that little headway can be made, at least in this election year, on revising the Open Skies with the Gulf countries, the focus swung to the US-EU agreement and Norwegian.”


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