House Wants To Block Norwegian Air
Part of the proposed House funding package that will keep the FAA going was an unusual last-minute amendment that would stop an airline from offering budget fares between Europe and the U.S. Norwegian Air established a subsidiary in Ireland to serve the U.S. with low-cost flights in a fleet of Boeing 787s. The airline says it meets all the requirements to fly to the U.S. but opponents, notably the Air Line Pilots Association, have mounted a major lobbying campaign on the Hill to block Norwegian Air from obtaining a foreign air carrier permit, claiming the Ireland-based subsidiary was established to circumvent Norwegian labor laws and allows the airline to employ pilots at cut-rate salaries. "NAIís scheme is to 'rent' its pilots through a Singapore employment company and base them in Thailand with wages and benefits substantially below those of the Norway-based pilots who fly for NAIís parent company," ALPA said in a recent news release. Norwegian Air says it's surprised by the congressional action.
In a news release Wednesday, the airline said the congressional action is anti-competition and it intends to continue its quest for a foreign operating permit. "As with anything new and innovative, Norwegian expected opposition from entrenched interests, and we will continue undeterred in the pursuit of our goal of serving the United States," the airline said in a news release. The airline already flies to the U.S. with service to Fort Lauderdale, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Round-trip fares to Europe are often less than $800. "As a licensed carrier of the European Union, Norwegian meets all the legal, safety and operational requirements to serve the United States Ė and we fully intend to do so in the near future," the airline said. "The time has passed for the Department of Transportation to approve Norwegian's application."