Release #14.75
August 25, 2014

DOT Has Multiple Legal Paths to Deny NAI; Now Must Act
U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement Intended to Benefit All, Including Labor

WASHINGTON––In a joint reply to Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) comments filed today, the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, and the European Cockpit Association called for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to deny NAI’s request for exemption authority. The coalition is also asking the DOT to issue a show cause order to make clear its intention to reject NAI’s request for a foreign air carrier permit that would allow it to serve U.S. markets on a permanent basis.

“The bottom line is clear—Norwegian Air International’s requests for operating authorizations to fly to the United States are not in the public interest,” said Capt. Lee Moak, ALPA’s president. “The Department of Transportation must exercise its authority under the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement and aviation statutes and deny NAI’s applications.”

The joint filing addresses NAI’s request for the foreign air carrier permit as well as for an exemption, which a carrier may apply for to cover the time during which its permit application is pending. ALPA’s filing underscores that the DOT has a legal basis for rejecting NAI’s request under the aviation statutes.

The filing also points out that Article 17 bis of the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement can constitute sufficient reason to reject a request for a foreign air carrier permit application or an exemption. Even if Article 17 bis is not used, the DOT has a basis for denying NAI’s request under the aviation statutes.

NAI has established itself as an Irish airline in order to avoid Norway’s employment laws and to be able to “rent” its pilots through a Singapore employment company. The pilots, who the company says are based in Thailand, work under individual employment contracts that contain compensation and benefits substantially below that of the Norway-based pilots who fly for NAI’s parent company.

An outpouring of opposition has emerged from both parties in the U.S. Congress as well as the former U.S. Ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization. The Air Crew Working Group of the Sectoral Dialogue Committee, which is recognized by the European Commission as the joint labor-management body that addresses labor issues in the airline sector in the EU, has submitted comments to the DOT opposing NAI. European airlines including Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, and Scandinavian Airlines and U.S. airlines such as Delta, United and American have also opposed NAI’s application.

“As the Labor Day holiday approaches, the intention and spirit of the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement is more important than ever––to provide benefits for everyone, including U.S. airline workers,” concluded Capt. Moak. “Because approval of NAI is not in the public interest, the DOT must stand up for U.S. aviation workers and exercise its authority to deny NAI’s applications.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing more than 51,000 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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