Friday 24 October 2014

Norwegian Air invests €336m here ahead of US service

Published 19/04/2014 | 02:30

Bjoern Kjos, chief executive officer of Norwegian Air Shuttle, which has beefed up its Irish subsidiary
Bjoern Kjos, chief executive officer of Norwegian Air Shuttle, which has beefed up its Irish subsidiary

Scandinavian airline Norwegian Air Shuttle has stuffed a total of $465m (€336m) into its controversial Ireland-based international operations as it gears up to launch services from London to the US this summer.

The cash investment is split between two Dublin firms – Norwegian Air International and Arctic Aviation Assets.

Aviation unions in the United States have been waging an all-out offensive in an effort to block Norwegian from operating its low-cost service to America. They have claimed that Norwegian is basing its long-haul service in Ireland in order to circumvent labour laws – something Norwegian has vehemently denied.

Company filings show that Norwegian Air Shuttle – the parent firm of Norwegian Air International – injected $38m (€27.5m) into Arctic Aviation Assets this year.

On December 31 it pumped $268.1m into Arctic, and last September it put $43m into the business.

Norwegian Air Shuttle has also put another $116m into Norwegian Air International this year.

Norwegian Air International doesn't offer services from Ireland, but is using its base here to avail of EU air traffic rights. The unit's aircraft are registered in Ireland. The airline already employs about 40 staff at an office near Dublin Airport and intends to hire more.

Norwegian Air Shuttle boss Bjorn Kjos has said that Norwegian Air International's fleet will probably double to around 45 aircraft. Almost all of the world's top aircraft lessors have offices in Ireland and about half of the world's leased aircraft fleet is managed through companies based here.

A massive union campaign to halt Norwegian Air International's expansion into the US has been continuing this month.

Two weeks ago, the US Association of Flight Attendants, the world's largest flight attendant union, called on the US Department of Transportation to seek additional information about Norwegian Air International's employment plans.

In an interview last month with the Irish Independent, the chief executive of New York-based airline JetBlue, Dave Barger, said he welcomed Norwegian's US expansion plans.

"I look at this rhetoric we're seeing in the United States with regard to what Norwegian is attempting to do and, wait a minute ... why is it the next idea is bad?" he said. "Are we that threatened by a couple of (Boeing) 787s starting a service from Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale or to Kennedy?"

Irish Independent

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