Norwegian’s UK Unit Gets Tentative US Approval

July 14, 2017

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Norwegian Air’s UK subsidiary has been given tentative approval by the US Department of Transportation for a foreign air carrier permit.

The low cost airline applied for the permit in late 2015, but it was met with strong opposition from US airlines and unions who maintain that looser employment laws would give the European carrier an unfair advantage.

Norwegian said “the approval reaffirms that the NUK (Norwegian UK) application is in full compliance with the EU-US Open Skies Agreement.”

“Tentative US approval for our UK subsidiary is a positive step toward being able to offer millions of passengers even more new routes and lower fares,” Norwegian chief executive Bjørn Kjos said.

Pilot union ALPA said it was disappointed by the DOT decision, made “without requiring information about how the airline’s crews will be employed or how its business model will affect US jobs.”

The union added that “though the employment model of Norwegian UK is not clear, its Irish sister airline, Norwegian Air International, has employed pilots and flight attendants under Asian contracts.”

The DOT approved a foreign carrier permit for Ireland-based Norwegian Air International in December 2016.

The parent airline’s home country Norway is not a member of the European Union, but the Irish subsidiary can operate under the US-EU Open Skies agreement giving it full rights to fly between the US and EU countries.

Norwegian said that once final DOT approval is received, Norwegian UK will be able to use its long-haul fleet more effectively. It will use the same aircraft on all long-haul routes, including to the US, Singapore, Argentina and other future long-haul markets.

Norwegian’s Kjos said “We look forward to final DOT approval for Norwegian UK’s foreign air carrier permit soon, which will allow us to continue delivering more flights, more choice and more jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.”