Larsen, LoBiondo & DeFazio: Norwegian Air International Decision is a “slap in the face to American workers”

Dec 2, 2016 Issues: Fighting for Workers, Transportation

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Reps. Rick Larsen (WA-02), Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02), and Peter DeFazio (OR-4) today released the following statement after the Department of Transportation announced it has awarded Norwegian Air International (NAI) an air carrier permit to operate in the United States.

 “This is a slap in the face to American workers,” said the Members. “Today’s decision by the Department of Transportation to award NAI a foreign air carrier permit is in direct contravention of Article 17 bis of the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement, and says to the world that the U.S. will reward countries that break their commitments to protecting workers.”

 Article 17 bis of the U.S.-EU-Iceland-Norway Open Skies Agreement states that “[t]he opportunities created by the Agreement are not intended to undermine labour standards or the labour-related rights and principles contained in the Parties’ respective laws” and further requires that these “principles . . . shall guide the Parties as they implement the Agreement.” With the decision to grant approval, DOT has decided provisions in the Open Skies Agreement that address labor are not, on their own, a sufficient basis for rejecting an otherwise-qualified applicant.

 In 2013, NAI applied for a foreign air carrier permit to permanently operate in the United States. DOT granted tentative approval on April 15, 2016. Behind the NAI application is a global outsourcing business model that will put U.S. airlines and their employees at a competitive disadvantage. U.S. and other European carriers rightly adhere to the high labor standards created through decades of hard work and commitment to a sustainable and socially-responsible aviation system. The point of Open Skies is to create an environment that fosters competition, not flags of convenience. 

 Earlier this year, Reps. Larsen, LoBiondo, and DeFazio sent a letter urging the Department, in the strongest possible terms, to set aside the flawed tentative decision on Norwegian’s permit application and to deny the application.

 

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