US carriers try to sink Norwegian's plans

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One of Norwegian's new long-haul crews. Photo: Norwegian
10:07 CET+01:00
Low cost airline Norwegian is under attack from four major US carriers and the country’s largest pilots’ union, which are seeking to ban the company’s planes from landing at American airports. The row centres on the Nordic carrier’s plans to base staff in low-cost countries.

The four airlines - American Airlines, Delta, United and US Airways - have joined with the Air Line Pilots Association to call for the US Department of Transportation to deny Norwegian a new operating certificate. They object to the fact that Norwegian has registered its planes in Ireland and has employed its long-haul crew on Singaporean contracts, with lower wages than Norway-based pilots.

Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, said the set-up was “clearly designed to attempt to dodge laws and regulations, starting a race to the bottom on labour and working conditions.” The company’s long-haul subsidiary, Norwegian Air International, is controlled by Norwegian citizens, he said.

In a complaint handed to the Department of Transportation on Friday, the four airlines said Norwegian’s structure breaches a ban on “flags of convenience to evade labour protections and thereby derive a competitive advantage in the market place.” The airlines and the unions claim that the plans break the EU-US air services agreement.

The accusations were rejected by Norwegian:

“We’re not dodging the rules, we’re following the regulations to the letter and will continue to do so,” communications director Anne-Sissel Skånvik said.

“These airlines have dominated the airspace over the Atlantic and kept ticket prices high. They naturally don’t want any competition.”

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