ALPA Continues its Fight for Fair Competition

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) recent decision to deny Norwegian Air UK’s (NAUK) foreign air carrier permit exemption was certainly a milestone in ALPA’s drive to ensure fair competition for U.S. airlines despite foreign airlines repeat attempts to use unfair business practices, but the fight is far from over.

The key to ALPA’s long-term success in defending a free marketplace? The extraordinary commitment of our members, airline passengers, and air cargo shippers to holding the U.S. government accountable for enforcing U.S. international agreements; and both NAUK and NAI, subsidiaries of Norwegian Air, conflict with U.S. agreements.

The facts are as follows:  Norwegian Air already has authority to serve the United States. NAUK has not supplied adequate information to DOT about its employment plans so its potential effect on U.S. jobs cannot be evaluated. For these reasons, ALPA opposed NAUK’s application for a foreign air carrier exemption, which would allow it to fly while DOT considers its permit application, and we continue to oppose its application for a permit.

ALPA also continues to oppose NAI’s foreign air carrier permit application because its business plan runs contrary to the U.S.–EU Air Transport Agreement (ATA). DOT previously rejected NAI’s exemption application but it has not yet rejected NAI’s permit application.

On June 27, former Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari affirmed that the ATA labor provision applies to both NAI and NAUK’s foreign air carrier permit applications in an article titled “Setting the record straight on Norwegian Air and the US-EU Open Skies Agreement.” Mr. Porcari, the senior DOT official who oversaw the U.S.-EU negotiations, states in the article, “[A] decision whether or not to grant operating authority based on compliance with Article 17 is at the heart of implementation of the ATA.”

ALPA will continue to pursue every avenue in our fight to make certain that the DOT ensures the ATA is applied to all airlines that seek to serve the United States under the agreement. Recently, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) joined Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), and Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) in introducing bipartisan legislation (H.R. 5090) in the U.S. House that directs the DOT to require foreign airlines to meet the labor standards agreed to in U.S. air transport agreements before allowing them to fly to the United States. The bill has garnered 132 bipartisan cosponsors. U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has also affirmed her opposition to NAI’s application.

There’s no question that U.S. airlines and their workers are the best in the world, but the United States must continue to enforce its international aviation policy to make certain that foreign air carrier business plans will not threaten fair competition for U.S. airlines and their workers. This includes denying NAI’s and NAUK’s foreign air carrier permit applications. ALPA will be there every step of the way to fight for a free market and U.S. aviation workers’ jobs.

Categories: Advocacy, International


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