February 12, 2014
Ireland’s Decision to Grant Norwegian Air International’s Air Operating Certificate Threatens U.S. Airline Jobs, Raises Key Safety Question
More Reason U.S. DOT Must Reject NAI’s Scheme
WASHINGTON––The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), maintains that Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) announcement that it has received an Irish air operator’s certificate (AOC) even though the company will not serve Ireland creates the same “flag of convenience” scenario that led to the U.S. maritime industry’s demise and the loss of tens of thousands of U.S. jobs. Moreover, the announcement raises a key question about adequate safety oversight of NAI’s operations.
“Today’s announcement that Ireland has granted an air operator’s certificate to Norwegian Air International raises the key air safety question of how the Irish government will exercise its oversight responsibility when NAI never actually operates to or through Ireland,” said Capt. Lee Moak, ALPA’s president. “The Irish Air Accident Investigation Unit itself has cited the adverse effect of such a business model on a government’s ability to perform adequate safety oversight.” Part of the Irish Department of Transport, Tourism, and Sport, the Air Accident Investigation Unit cited its concern in its formal report on a February 2011 fatal airline accident at Cork Airport, which involved a company with a Spanish AOC operating a Spanish-registered aircraft that did not operate to or through Spain.
A subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle and based in Norway, NAI is seeking to operate its long-haul flights as an Irish airline expressly to avoid Norway’s employment laws, which runs contrary to the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement. NAI’s scheme is to “rent” its pilots through a Singapore employment company and to base them in Thailand. The employment company will require that the pilots work under individual employment contracts that contain wages and benefits substantially below those of the Norway-based pilots who fly for NAI’s parent company.
In addition, NAI has applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation for a foreign air carrier permit so that it can fly to the United States and compete with U.S. airlines for international passengers’ business.
“The fact that U.S. airlines and their employees are dedicated and driven to compete with their foreign counterparts for the business of international air travelers is beyond any doubt,” continued Capt. Moak. “But NAI is not seeking competition on a level playing field; NAI wants to gain an unfair advantage over U.S. airlines in winning passengers’ business by dodging its national laws and violating the spirit and intent of the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement. These legal concerns require that the U.S. Department of Transportation flatly reject NAI’s foreign air carrier permit application.”
ALPA’s new website, takeaction.alpa.org, features an online petition for airline pilots and all airline employees, as well as others who are interested, to take a strong stand in opposing NAI’s scheme.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing nearly 50,000 pilots at 31 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org or follow us on Twitter @WeAreALPA.
CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703/481-4440 or Media@alpa.org
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