The Hill reported that Clinton has now joined the many US critics of Norwegian’s efforts to get permission to fly to and from the United States and has urged the Obama administration to block the airline’s attempts to expand its US operations.
"Hillary Clinton urges the Obama Administration against moving forward with final approval of Norwegian Air International's [Norwegian’s Irish subsidiary, ed.] application,” Clinton campaign director Nikki Budzinski said in a statement. “Too many questions have been raised about NAI's practices and plans."
The United States Department of Transport (DoT) agreed to let Norwegian upscale its current operations after two years of deliberation but lawmakers in the House of Representatives are trying to block Norwegian’s expansion with a new bill.
Norwegian currently flies to US airports under the parent company, Norwegian Air Shuttle. The creation of NAI has been unpopular with unions on both sides of the Atlantic, with critics saying that the move is designed to enable Norwegian to circumvent strict labour laws in Norway and use crews from low-cost countries.
The airline’s communications manager, Lass Sandaker-Nielsen told business news site E24 that Norwegian currently uses US employees hired on competitive terms. He stressed that the company will do whatever the Obama administration requires.
“The political game in Washington continues and many untruths are being said in order to please unions with deep pockets. Norwegian is doing precisely what the Obama administration has asked, namely creating jobs in the US, increasing tourism and providing American passengers with flights they can afford,” he said.
Clinton’s opponent for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, has also expressed his opposition to Norwegian’s US plans.
“Norwegian Air International’s attempt to undermine international labour laws by outsourcing cheap labour from Thailand and other low-wage countries is unacceptable,” Sanders's campaign website says. “We must do everything we can to prevent a global race to the bottom in the airline industry.”
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Norwegian currently provides only two percent of the market share for transatlantic flights, while Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines dominate with a combined 79 percent, once their European joint venture partners are included.