US unions fight Norwegian’s transatlantic bid

Air Line Pilots Association funds campaign Deny NAI

A powerful union in the USA has launched a campaign to try to prevent the airline Norwegian from operating a cheaper transatlantic service, TTG Digital writes.

The Air Line Pilots Association is funding a campaign called Deny NAI in an effort to force the US Department of Transport to refuse an application by Norwegian Air International (NAI) to run a service across the Atlantic, according to reports in the Sunday Times.

NAI is an Irish subsidiary of Oslo-based Norwegian Air Shuttle, which already operates a service to New York, Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles. But NAI does not have permission to fly to the country.

The airline applied for permission almost a year ago under the Open Skies arrangement between the US and Europe, which Norway signed up to in 2012. However, although decisions are usually made within a couple of months, stateside objections have delayed the application.

The union claims Norwegian is trying to use the Irish subsidiary to cut costs in a similar way to shipping companies using a flag of convenience when registering ships. The union has also suggested the operation would undermine US wages and working standards.

In a letter to US senators, Lee Moak, the union’s president, claimed American jobs would be at risk if one company was allowed to play by different rules, adding that if this company was successful then others would follow.

He also mentioned NAI was set up to be an Irish airline but there were no plans to fly to or from Ireland.

NAI insists it will create American jobs, bring more tourists to the US, and provide cheap flights for both European and American travellers. Bjorn Kjos, Norwegian Air Shuttle’s chief executive, said, “The transatlantic market has for far too long been dominated by alliances that have been allowed to rule the market with high prices and limited choice”.

Negotiators from America and Europe are meeting in Washington this week to debate the issue.

TTG Digital

[photo courtesy Norwegian]

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