DOT should reject Norwegian Air’s foreign air carrier application (

January 28, 2015

By John A. Logan

The Department of Transportation (DOT) will soon decide whether or not to grant controversial low-cost airline Norwegian Air International (NAI) a foreign air carrier permit to fly to the U.S. NAI is seeking to establish a “flag of convenience” model in transatlantic aviation, just as has been done in merchant shipping since the 1950s. If the DOT were to approve NAI’s application, it would likely spell disaster for American aviation workers, carriers and consumers.

Several points stand out about the NAI case.

First, there are the peculiarities of the airline’s business model. U.S. airlines that fly to the EU use American-based flight crews, and EU airlines that fly to the U.S. use EU-based flight crews. NAI is a Norwegian-owned company that holds an air carrier certification from Ireland, but does not fly to or from Ireland. Nor does it use Norwegian or even Irish flight crews, but rather Bangkok-based crews are hired through a Singapore employment agency and who work under Singapore labor law. This “nation-shopping” model has enabled NAI to artificially lower operating costs by suppressing collective bargaining rights and substantially lowering the wages, benefits and conditions offered to these rented workers as compared to their Norwegian-based counterparts.

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