US tentatively approves Norwegian Air permit

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US tentatively approves Norwegian Air permit

Unread post by bimjim » Mon Apr 18, 2016 ... air-permit

US tentatively approves Norwegian Air permit
Karen Walker
Apr 15, 2016

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has given tentative permission for Norwegian Air International (NAI) to serve the US, more than two years after NAI applied for a foreign air carrier permit.

The announcement April 15 by DOT that NAI “appears to meet DOT’s normal standards for award of a permit and … there is no legal basis to deny NAI’s application” is a huge coup for the Dublin-based NAI, an Irish-flag subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle.

In particular, DOT deemed that the provision in a US-European Union agreement that addresses labor does not form a basis for rejecting an applicant that is otherwise qualified to receive a permit.

The labor issue has been highly contentious, with union groups arguing that NAI was operating under a “flag of convenience” by basing in Ireland so as to sidestep labor rules.

In giving its tentative approval, DOT states that it acknowledges the labor-related concerns and took “the unprecedented step” of formally consulting two agencies with special expertise on international law, the Department of Justice’s office of legal counsel and State Department.

NAI has an Irish air operator’s certificate and applied Dec. 2, 2013, for a foreign air carrier permit to serve the US. DOT’s failure to grant or deny the permit over a protracted time, despite the US-EU Open Skies agreement, led to the application being taken up at the European Commission.

Several US and European carriers objected to NAI’s application, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Lufthansa, SAS and United Airlines. The deadline for objections to the permit is May 6, while responses must be submitted by May 13.

When the permit is finalized, NAI plans to begin operations to the US, including the first-ever service between Cork, Ireland, and Boston.

“A final approval, based on the Open Skies agreement between the US and EU, will be win-win for consumers and the economy on both sides of the Atlantic. It will allow Norwegian to expand our US operations. Our continued presence in the US will create thousands of jobs and generate tens of millions of dollars of economic activity for the Group’s US destinations,” Norwegian Group CEO Bjørn Kjos said in a statement.

Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) issued a statement saying the decision exposed “serious flaws” in US aviation policy.

“DOT is proposing to allow a foreign airline to compete directly with US airlines on long-haul international routes with unfair economic advantages,” ALPA president Tim Canoll said.

Meanwhile, in March a UK subsidiary of Norwegian, Norwegian UK (NUK) also applied to serve the US, an application that has seen strong support from cargo carriers, travel industry groups, the UK government and airports in the US and UK.

Norwegian Group is Europe’s third largest low-cost carrier after Ryanair and easyJet. It operates over 93 Boeing 737s and 10 Boeing 787s and has firm orders and options for more than 100 Airbus A320neos, 100 Boeing 737 MAXs and 20 additional 787s.

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