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US Department of Transportation Gives Tentative OK to Norwegian Air


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US Department of Transportation Gives Tentative OK to Norwegian Air

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Category: Airline / Travel

Norwegian Air won tentative U.S. Department of Transportation approval yesterday for its Ireland-based subsidiary’s flights between the United States and Europe — slated to include Logan International Airport’s first nonstop service to Cork, Ireland, along with possible new flights to Shannon — despite widespread objections from other airlines and unions.

The regulatory agency said budget carrier Norwegian Airline International “appears to meet DOT’s normal standards” for a permit and there “appears to be no legal basis to deny NAI’s application.”

The DOT said that it consulted with the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of State before issuing its order.

“A final approval, based on the Open Skies Agreement between the U.S. and EU, will be (a) win-win for consumers and the economy on both sides of the Atlantic,” Norwegian Group CEO Bjorn Kjos said in a statement.

Oslo-based Norwegian, which operates the low-cost Norwegian Air Shuttle at Logan, had complained about the DOT’s “continued delays” on its December 2013 foreign carrier permit application, noting the average approval rate for European Union carriers is 53 days.

In September, Norwegian unveiled plans to start direct Boston-Cork service four to five times per week in May, at roundtrip fares of $300 to $350. But it postponed those plans in February absent DOT approval. The new Cork route would give travelers an alternative to route dominator Aer Lingus’ flights to Dublin and Shannon, and other airlines’ Dublin service.

But rival airlines and unions allege NAI’s Ireland base is a “flag of convenience” to evade Norway’s wage and work standards for pilots and cabin crews, giving it an unfair advantage. NAI plans to hire pilots through a Singapore company and base cockpit crews in Thailand, according to the Air Line Pilots Association, North America’s largest pilot union.
 “We are extremely disappointed by the DOT’s intention to permit (NAI) to fly to and from the United States, because it is an affront to fair competition,” association president Tim Canoll said in a statement.

Norwegian said it plans to continue hiring “hundreds” of U.S.-based crew.

The DOT said the labor-related concerns “warranted proceeding with caution and careful consideration.” Its show-cause order requires objections to be filed by May 6. There is no statutory deadline for it to render its final decision.

In an October interview with the Herald, Kjos cited a long list of other potential nonstop NAI flights from Boston, including destinations in Scotland, England, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Spain.

Source: Boston Herald

Published: September 25, 2022