Release #14.24
March 13, 2014

ALPA Hails Tide of Bipartisan Concern from U.S. Senate about Norwegian Air International Scheme
NAI Changes Public Message Again

WASHINGTON––The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) hailed a bipartisan letter signed by 38 members of the U.S. Senate and sent yesterday to the Secretary of Transportation expressing lawmakers’ serious concerns that the Norwegian Air International (NAI) scheme may not comply with the U.S.-EU Open Skies Air Transport Agreement and is not in the U.S. public interest.

“ALPA commends the 38 members of the U.S. Senate who have taken a strong stand for making certain that the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement is respected and that U.S. airlines have a fair opportunity to compete internationally and continue to fuel the U.S. economy, support the national defense, and provide U.S. jobs,” said Capt. Lee Moak, ALPA’s president.

The bipartisan letter, which was sent on March 12 to Secretary Anthony Foxx, was spearheaded by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) and raised serious concerns about NAI’s application to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for a foreign air carrier permit that would allow it to fly to the United States and compete with U.S. airlines for international passengers’ business.

“The U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement was a historic agreement that not only expanded opportunities for consumers and businesses, but protected our high labor standards,” said Senator Schatz. “NAI’s permit application to the DOT is concerning, and we need to uphold the integrity of the bilateral agreement and the labor standards that protect American jobs."

In addition to this week’s letter from the Senate to the DOT, more than 60 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have also written to the DOT expressing concern or outright opposition to NAI’s application. NAI appears to be reacting to the landslide objection to its scheme and is again changing its public message. In a Wall Street Journal story published on March 12, the CEO of NAI’s parent company, Norwegian Air Shuttle, indicated that he is making plans to buy another European carrier with an existing permit to serve the United States should NAI fail to obtain a permit from the DOT.

“Once again, NAI is changing its public relations tune. It appears that NAI has recognized the escalating opposition to its unfair scheme and is creating backup plans,” continued Capt. Moak.

NAI is seeking to operate its long-haul flights as an Irish airline expressly to avoid Norway’s employment laws. ALPA maintains that the NAI scheme is clearly designed to undermine the labor standards contained in the laws of Norway and the United States, and its operations in the transatlantic market would be inconsistent with the provisions of the U.S.-E.U. Air Transport Agreement. “In addition, its parent company has not denied that it has expressly created NAI to avoid Norway’s national laws,” added Capt. Moak.

More than 23,000 airline pilots, other airline industry employees, and airline passengers have signed ALPA’s petition opposing NAI’s scheme and calling on the DOT to immediately reject it.

“The many unanswered legal, policy, and safety questions as well as the strong outpouring of concern from Congress, U.S. airline industry employees, management, and customers is clear evidence that the U.S. Department of Transportation must immediately reject the Norwegian Air International scheme,” concluded Capt. Moak.

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.

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CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703/481-4440 or Media@alpa.org

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