House Tries to Block DOT Approval of Norwegian Air Flights to the U.S.

By Paul Riegler on 6 May 2016
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A bipartisan group of congressmen introduced legislation last week to block the U.S. Department of Transportation’s approval of Norwegian Air’s expansion in the United States.

In April, the agency gave the green light to plans for Norwegian Air International, the Irish-flag subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle, to operate flights to the United States from Ireland and other parts of the European Union. After consulting with the Justice and State departments, transportation officials said they found no basis to reject Norwegian.

The bill to revoke the approval is sponsored by Rep. Frank LoBiondo, a Republican from New Jersey, and co-sponsored by Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, a Republican from Georgia, and two Democratic congressmen, Peter DeFazio of Oregon and Rick Larsen of Washington.

In a statement, Rep. DeFazio contended that Norwegian is a “virtual airline set up to undercut competition by exploiting cheap labor,” an allusion to the use of employees paid at below-market rates, something the airline has said it does not do on flights between the United States and Europe. The lawmakers also questioned whether the airline might skirt U.S. air safety rules, even though the airline is certified by the Irish Aviation Authority, thus satisfying the conditions U.S. Federal Aviation Administration requires for airlines that operate flights to and from the United States.

Norwegian, for its part, said in a statement that it plans to offer affordable, safe, and high-quality service between the United States and Europe, while opening the transatlantic market to more competition. The airline has more U.S.-based crews than any other foreign airline and plans to hire several hundred more American crewmembers.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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