Monday 20 November 2017

Norwegian Airlines: Ryanair's O'Leary blasts Bernie Sanders opposition to Cork/US flights

On yer bike: Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary.
On yer bike: Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary.
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary is among a number of leading Irish aviation and tourism figures who have called for Norwegian Airlines International to be granted a permit that will allow it to fly between Cork and the United States.

In a joint letter sent to over 50 senior US politicians who are members of the ‘Friends of Ireland’ caucus, Mr O’Leary and other supporters of Norwegian, including Failte Ireland chairman Michael Cawley, have urged them to back the airline’s permit request.

“We ask that you support NAI’s (Norwegian Air International’s) request on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Americans and Irish consumers and business people who will benefit from new, accessible, and affordable flights between our two countries and Europe,” the letter states.

The Irish Independent revealed this week that US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has voiced his opposition to NAI being allowed fly from Cork to America.

A rally is to be held today in Washington DC to show support for NAI’s plans.

The letter to the US politicians has also been signed by MEP Deirdre Clune; the chief executive of the DAA, Kevin Toland; the CEO of the Irish Aviation Authority, Eamonn Brennan; Michael Murphy, the president of UCC; and Ian Talbot, the CEO of the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland. There are 21 signatories in total.

They add: “To our dismay, opponents of NAI have repeatedly and maliciously impugned Ireland’s aviation safety oversight, regulatory structures and labour protections, and labelled Ireland as a mere ‘flag of convenience’. This is deeply inaccurate, misleading and simply not true.”

NAI, which is a subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle, already has an Irish air operator’s certificate, but has waited two years to secure its permit to fly to America. The US Department of Transportation has delayed the permit in the face of strong opposition from aviation unions to NAI.

The unions claim that Norwegian will use its Irish unit to circumvent stringent labour laws, and using cheap employees, including staff from Asia, to the detriment of US airlines.

Norwegian has consistently denied the claims.

Ryanair has already showed its support in a separate letter to the US Department of Transportation.

“NAI will deliver a fresh competitive dynamic on the transatlantic routes by offering choice, service improvements and lower fares to US and European consumers, creating jobs and delivering increased passenger volumes,” Ryanair claimed.

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