December 3, 2014
European Commission decides DOT has breached aviation deal in delay over decision regarding NAI
Norwegian Air International completed its DOT foreign air carrier permit application in February 2014. It usually takes no more than 6 months for the DOT to reach a decision. However this particular application appeared to be met with considerable opposition. Currently it seems that approaching 90% of transatlantic air traffic is dealt with by three airline alliances that seemingly operate with immunity from U.S. antitrust laws. As a result, airfares have risen considerably as these alliances have tended to limit growth in the number of passenger seats available, allowing U.S. airline profits to reach record levels. In November, Norwegian Air Shuttle (Oslo) made further approaches to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to approve its application to operate its Boeing 787s as Norwegian Air International (NAI) (Dublin). The 787s are currently operated by Norwegian subsidiary, Norwegian Long Haul, despite the fact the aircraft are registered in Ireland.
In a November statement from them: “NAI will directly contribute to President Obama’s goal of generating 100 million foreign visitors to the United States by 2021. Norwegian already employs 300 American cabin crewmembers in Fort Lauderdale and New York, and currently is recruiting American pilots at its New York pilot base. Of the 300 cabin crew, for which Norwegian received more than 7,000 applications, the vast majority worked previously for U.S. airlines and chose to join Norwegian for the pay, benefits and team-spirited environment.”The statement continued “NAI meets all statutory and regulatory requirements to serve the United States and is entitled to DOT approval “with minimum procedural delay” under the U.S.—E.U. Air Transport Agreement. Nevertheless, a full nine months after applying to DOT, NAI continues to await a decision that will allow it to begin low-fare transatlantic service to and from the United States.”
The European Commission announced on Tuesday that they have decided the DOT has violated an aviation deal with the European Union by taking too long to grant a license that would allow the budget airline to boost trans-Atlantic flights. The European Executive have stated: “”The European Commission considers that there is a breach of the EU-US air transport agreement by the US authorities… The US authorities are taking too long to process the application.” However that does not mean NAI will now automatically be granted their license, though despite such heavy opposition the application is being backed by Willie Walsh, the chief executive of IAG.