September 2, 2014
ALPA Pilots Commend DOT Rejection of NAI
Safeguards Fair Competition for U.S. Airlines
WASHINGTON––Today’s announcement that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has dismissed Norwegian Air International (NAI) a temporary foreign air carrier operating authorization marks significant progress in the drive by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) to help ensure a level playing field for U.S. airlines.
“The U.S. Department of Transportation took an important stand for fair competition today by denying Norwegian Air International’s request for temporary authorization to fly to and from the United States,” said Capt. Lee Moak, ALPA’s president.
NAI has applied for both a foreign air carrier permit and an exemption, which a carrier may apply for to cover the time during which its permit application is pending. The DOT announced today that it had denied NAI’s exemption request.
“While today’s decision is extremely significant, the DOT’s work is not yet complete in making certain that NAI is not permitted to exploit international aviation policy and law to gain an unfair economic advantage over U.S. airlines,” Capt. Moak continued. “The DOT must take the next step and deny NAI’s application for a foreign air carrier permit to serve U.S. markets.”
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. NAI has applied to the U.S. DOT for a foreign air carrier permit that would allow it to compete directly with U.S. airlines on long-haul international routes.
NAI’s business plan has prompted an outpouring of bipartisan concern from more than 100 members of Congress. In a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, 40 U.S. Senators expressed concern and more than 100 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have also stated concern or outright opposition to NAI’s plan.
ALPA has been joined by a broad coalition of U.S. and European airlines, labor organizations, and trade associations in adamantly opposing the NAI application. North American and European labor groups have also expressed opposition, including the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department, the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, the Transport Workers Union, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the European Cockpit Association, the International Transport Workers’ Federation, and PARAT. The Association for European Airlines stated that serious questions regarding the NAI application needed to be answered.
In addition, 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. The former U.S. Ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has also called for its rejection.
“Today’s decision puts the Norwegian Air International scheme on hold, but it doesn’t end the threat it poses to fair competition and U.S. aviation jobs,” said Capt. Moak. “The DOT must heed the call made from so many in Congress from both sides of the aisle, labor groups on both sides of the Atlantic, and the European Commission’s own labor-management organization and deny NAI’s application for a U.S. foreign air carrier permit.”
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 www.alpa.org or follow us on Twitter @WeAreALPA.
CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703/481-4440 or Media@alpa.org
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