Release #: 16.13
April 28, 2016

ALPA Hails Congressional Opposition to Norwegian Air International

Lawmakers Direct DOT to Enforce U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement

WASHINGTON—The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) hails bipartisan legislation (H.R. 5090) introduced in the U.S. House today that directs the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to require foreign airlines to meet the standards agreed to in U.S. air transport agreements before allowing them to fly to the United States—a clear signal of strong congressional opposition to Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) foreign air carrier permit application.

“ALPA commends Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) for standing up for U.S. airline workers and introducing bipartisan legislation that will prevent Norwegian Air International from serving the United States with a business plan that is designed to undermine labor standards and the intent of one of this country’s international trade agreements,” said Capt. Tim Canoll, ALPA’s president.

On April 15, the DOT tentatively approved NAI’s request for a foreign air carrier permit to allow it to operate flights to the United States. NAI’s business plan, which was devised to allow it to avoid Norwegian labor, tax, and regulatory laws, is inconsistent with the intent of the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement (ATA). While flagged in Ireland, NAI plans to use flight crews employed on Asian employment contracts in a flag-of-convenience scheme that is completely at odds with the ATA. The ATA includes a labor provision known as Article 17 bis that requires the DOT to ensure that opportunities under the agreement are not used to undermine labor standards.

“H.R. 5090 would require the DOT to enforce the air transport agreement article regarding airline workers’ standards with the same commitment that it gives to the rest of the agreement––that’s something U.S. workers should be able to count on from their government,” said Capt. Canoll.

 On April 27, three U.S. House Transportation Committee leaders––Rep. Peter DeFazio, Rep. Frank LoBiondo, and Rep. Rick Larsen––sent a letter to the Secretary of Transportation urging him to deny NAI’s permit application. In total, more than 200 Members of Congress have sent letters to the DOT asking the administration to prioritize the ATA’s labor article in its evaluation of NAI’s application. Congressional report language in both the FY2015 and FY2016 appropriations bills demanded that the DOT give Article 17 bis appropriate consideration as an essential element of the ATA.

“Congress has clearly spoken out because tens of thousands of U.S. airline jobs depend on fair competition on these international airline routes,” continued Capt. Canoll. “If one company is allowed to ignore the principles of U.S. air transport agreements, others will try to do so as well, and the result could jeopardize billions of dollars that airlines and their workers contribute to the U.S. economy.”

In the past two weeks, more than 15,000 ALPA pilots have declared their ironclad opposition to the DOT’s tentative decision. Airline pilots, many tens of thousands of airline workers, concerned passengers, and air cargo shippers have joined lawmakers in calling on the Obama administration to ensure fair and free competition for U.S. airlines and their workers.

“If the DOT were to approve Norwegian Air International’s foreign air carrier permit application, it would be in direct violation of the will of Congress and of the American people,” said Capt. Canoll. “By rejecting NAI’s application, the DOT has an opportunity to raise, rather than lower, a ladder of opportunity for U.S. airlines and their workers by enforcing this country’s trade agreements and ensuring a fair market internationally.”

ALPA is part of a labor alliance, representing over 200,000 aviation workers, calling on the Obama administration to enforce U.S. trade agreements and defend good jobs and fair competition. Find out more at

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents over 52,000 pilots at 30 U.S. and Canadian airlines. Visit the ALPA website at or follow us on Twitter @WeAreALPA.


CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or