Saturday 24 June 2017

US pilot union would drop opposition to Dublin-based Norwegian Air unit if contract pledge made

Cabin crew at Norwegian Air Shuttle, the parent company of the low-cost airline
Cabin crew at Norwegian Air Shuttle, the parent company of the low-cost airline
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

America’s biggest pilot union will drop its opposition to Norwegian Airlines International’s plans to use Ireland as a base to serve the United States, if the carrier formally tells the US Department of Transportation (DOT) that it will only hire crew on either US or Irish contracts.

Speaking in Dublin Union President Tim Canoll told Independent.ie: “They’re willing to say that to the Irish people, so they should be willing to say it to the US DOT.”

The union – Air Line Pilots’ Association (ALPA) – is also the world’s biggest pilot union, with over 53,000 members.

Dublin-based Norwegian Air International (NAI) – a subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle – has publicly committed to using only US or European crew on its NAI transatlantic services in an effort to appease concerns in the US that it would hire Asia-based crews, or offer staff less lucrative contracts than they would if they were employees of NAI’s parent.

A Norwegian Airlines International flight takes off
A Norwegian Airlines International flight takes off

“They just need to tell that to the DOT in a filing so that they’re committed to it,” said Mr Canoll, who claimed that ALPA has made attempts to encourage NAI to make that commitment, but that NAI has “refused”.

ALPA has opposed NAI’s plans to use Ireland as a base to avail of the Open Skies agreement that exists between the European Union and the United States. That agreement allows airlines from the EU to fly to any destination in the US, and vice versa.

NAI initially plans to launch transatlantic services from Cork to Boston and New York. It had hoped to launch the Boston service during the summer. Norwegian Air Shuttle already flies from Europe to the US.

“I want to Norwegian Air International to succeed and go forward,” said Mr Canoll. “I think competition’s a great thing. US airlines compete very well.”

For three years, the US Department of Transportation has been sitting on a application from NAI to secure a foreign carrier permit that will allow it to operate between the EU and the US.

The DOT indicated in April that it intended to grant the permit, but it has still not been issued and it’s likely to be some time before it is.

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