Larsen Calls on President-Elect Trump to Reject Norwegian Air International
Washington, D.C.—Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA) today led a bipartisan group of more than 100 Members of Congress in calling on President-elect Donald J. Trump to reverse a decision by the U.S. Department of Transportation to allow Norwegian Air International (NAI) to operate routes between the U.S. and Europe.
NAI has established itself in Ireland, where labor laws permit the airline to hire its pilots and flight attendants on individual employment contracts under non-European law in order to cut costs. NAI’s overt labor forum-shopping violates the Open Skies agreement with Norway and the European Union and gives it an unfair competitive advantage in the transatlantic market.
“On December 2, 2016, the Department of Transportation (DOT) made a grievously wrong decision to grant Norwegian Air International a foreign air carrier permit for U.S.-Europe air services. Given your commitment to protecting American jobs and our national security, we strongly urge you, on Day One of your presidency, to revoke or suspend the permit until Norwegian changes its business model to a model that does not rely on a flag of convenience and threaten America’s international aviation industry and our national security,” the Members said.
Article 17 bis of the U.S.-EU-Iceland-Norway Open Skies Agreement states that “[t]he opportunities created by the Agreement are not intended to undermine labour standards or the labour-related rights and principles contained in the Parties’ respective laws” and further requires that these “principles . . . shall guide the Parties as they implement the Agreement.” With the decision to grant approval, DOT has decided provisions in the Open Skies Agreement that address labor are not, on their own, a sufficient basis for rejecting an otherwise-qualified applicant.
In 2013, NAI applied for a foreign air carrier permit to permanently operate in the United States. DOT granted tentative approval on April 15, 2016. Behind the NAI application is a global outsourcing business model that will put U.S. airlines and their employees at a competitive disadvantage. U.S. and other European carriers rightly adhere to the high labor standards created through decades of hard work and commitment to a sustainable and socially-responsible aviation system.
Earlier this year, Reps. Larsen, LoBiondo, and DeFazio urged the Department, in the strongest possible terms, to set aside the flawed tentative decision on Norwegian’s permit application and to deny the application.