Working Together to Push Back Against International Threats

By Capt. Tim Canoll

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) tentatively approved Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) application to fly to and from the United States. With this decision, NAI gains an enormous unfair competitive advantage over U.S. and European airlines, which are required to do business under a different set of social laws.

NAI is incorporated in Ireland because of its favorable tax and regulatory laws. However, the record in this case shows that NAI intended and may still intend to use flight crews that will be hired on Singapore employment contracts with compensation substantially below that of Norwegian’s Norway-based employees. This “flag-of-convenience” business practice is similar to that employed in the shipping industry, where companies routinely shop for weaker laws and regulations. As a result of this practice, tens of thousands of U.S. maritime industry jobs have been lost.

As a result of NAI’s scheme, the airline gains an enormous competitive advantage over U.S. airlines, which must operate under one set of U.S. laws and regulations. This is a direct affront to fair competition in the global aviation marketplace.

ALPA is extremely disappointed in the DOT’s tentative decision. Charged with encouraging fair wages and working conditions and ensuring that U.S. air carriers maintain a strong competitive position in the global marketplace, the DOT’s recent action goes against its own policies and works against aviation workers, pilots included.

ALPA is prepared to fight back and will ask the DOT to revise its tentative decision and to deny NAI’s application for a foreign air carrier permit. We will continue to push the United States to reform its international aviation policy so that U.S. airlines can compete fairly in the global marketplace.

As pilot labor leaders from around the world gather in New Orleans this week to discuss the aviation industry’s most pressing issues at the annual conference of the International Federation of Air Line Pilots Association, ALPA will work with international counterparts to develop strategies that help to create a level playing field.

Through international collaboration, pilots from around the world work together to ensure that we can all compete without facing labor schemes such as NAI. ALPA will continue to work with our international colleagues to identify strategies and tactics needed to advance the piloting profession. 

Categories: Advocacy, International