Release #14.17
February 21, 2014

ALPA Responds to NAI’s Request to DOT for Foreign Air Carrier Permit
Growing Chorus of Opponents from Labor, U.S. and International Carriers Voice Opposition

Washington – The Air Line Pilots Association Int’l (ALPA) joined forces with the Transportation and Trades Department of the AFL-CIO and the European Cockpit Association in filing a response to the Department of Transportation (DOT) requesting that the agency deny Norwegian Air International (NAI) a foreign air carrier permit that would allow it to fly in the United States. The filing argues that NAI seeks to establish itself as an Irish carrier to avoid Norway’s labor and other social laws, and new claims the company has made to justify its request are unsubstantiated.

“DOT is charged with encouraging fair wages and working conditions and ensuring that U.S. air carriers have a strong competitive position in the global marketplace,” said Capt. Lee Moak, president of ALPA. “NAI’s business scheme does not pass the test and is inconsistent with both directives, therefore the application should be rejected.”

ALPA’s DOT response asserts that any effort to move to Ireland directly undermines Norwegian labor standards and the labor-related rights and principles contained in Norway’s laws, an outcome that would violate the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement. Given that Ireland has now granted NAI operating authorization, ALPA urged the DOT to notify the aeronautical authorities of Ireland and affirm that the conditions prescribed in the Air Transport Agreement for the grant of appropriate authorizations have not been met and that it intends to deny NAI’s application.

NAI’s request to the DOT has received additional opposition from several European carriers. In a joint response, Lufthansa and Scandinavian Airlines told the DOT that they believed that NAI’s application does not comply with the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement and that they did not believe the record exists for DOT to approve NAI’s application. Air France and KLM also recommended that DOT disapprove NAI’s application, noting that the “uncontroverted factual evidence on the record” is that NAI’s business model is at odds with the labor standards set in the ATA.

“If NAI is allowed to choose where it does business based on an advantageous legal or regulatory environment, the company will wield an enormous unfair economic advantage over U.S. and EU airlines, making it more difficult for airlines and their employees to compete for long-haul international passengers’ business,” continued Moak. “The result threatens the EU and U.S. airline industry and the hundreds of thousands of jobs it supports, as well as their contribution and to the economy.”

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.

ALPA’s new website,, 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 or follow us on Twitter @WeAreALPA.


CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703/481-4440 or

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