US Still Fails to Issue Norwegian Permit for Transatlantic Flights


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Despite every effort, Dublin-based Norwegian Air International (NAI) has still failed to persuade the US authorities to issue a permit to enable it to fly transatlantic routes to America. This failure by the US authorities could have the potential to damage the proposed EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

The continued delays come despite the US Department of Transportation indicating in April that it intended to grant NAI the required permit. Now it seems that it will be left to the next administration to resolve matters.

In support of NAI, EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc has submitted a strongly worded letter to the US Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, making it clear that there could be wide-reaching implications as a result of the continued delays.

“I am also concerned, as (are) some of my colleagues, about the consequences that this matter could have, not only in our aviation relations, but in the overall economic and trade transatlantic agenda,” Ms Bulc said in her letter.

“At a time when closer bilateral ties are being put into question by many sectors of our societies, we should carefully consider the implications that this long and protracted dispute could have, for example, in the TTIP negotiations after both sides’ legal teams share the assessment of the case.”

This letter was also copied in to US Secretary of State John Kerry, the White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, and the US Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs, Adewale Adeyemo, in which Bulc also stated that “I find it regrettable that this is the outcome after more than two years to deliberation and despite the patience and the goodwill that the EU has shown.”

With Norway not being part of the EU, Norwegian Air Shuttle set up the offshoot airline, Norwegian Air International, in Ireland so that it could benefit from the EU-US Open Skies agreement.

However, opposition has come from the US in the form of their aviation unions who fear that Norwegian Air Shuttle is trying to circumvent stringent labor laws and would likely use low-cost Asian staff to make it even more competitive, threatening thousands of jobs in the US. This is despite the fact that Norwegian Air Shuttle have repeatedly pledged to use only European and US cabin crew on transatlantic routes.