The Department of Transportation yesterday rejected Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) request for an exemption to launch a “new” airline that would violate US public interest laws and the US-EU Open Skies agreement.
“The IAM applauds the DOT’s decision to reject NAI’s scheme to circumvent labor standards and exploit lax regulations in other parts of the world,” said IAM General Vice President Sito Pantoja. “I’d like to thank all IAM members and the broad coalition of AFL-CIO transportation and European unions that mobilized to stop NAI’s back-door plan.”
NAI’s blueprint rankled many across the US and Europe because it violated explicit employee protections outlined in the US-EU Open Skies agreement that bars plans that undermine “high labor standards.”
NAI abandoned its home country of Norway to evade its social and tax laws and avoid its collective bargaining obligations with its own employees. NAI registered its “new” airline in Ireland—with no air service in that country, based most of its flight crews in Thailand, staffed its flight crews via a Singaporean employment agency and sought to use its false European identity to gain access to the lucrative trans-Atlantic market.
While dismissing NAI’s request for an exemption is a critical step in the process, the DOT must issue a final ruling on NAI’s request for a foreign air carrier permit.