CAPA Applauds DOT's decision to dismiss Norwegian Air's request for exemption

Washington, D.C. (September 3, 2014) – The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA) applauds the U.S Department of Transportation’s (DOT) decision to dismiss Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) request for exemption from certain federal statutes to conduct foreign scheduled and charter air transportation services in the U.S.  

CAPA has worked tirelessly and in unison with industry, trade associations and other labor unions to educate Congress on the dangers this latest threat poses to the U.S. airline industry, airline jobs, and the American traveling public. NAI’s business model is a “flag-of-convenience” scheme and a shell game to gain an economic advantage over U.S. airlines. Most importantly, it is an attempt to evade labor protections. A red flag has been raised as to how far a foreign carrier should be allowed to work-around existing international aviation policies and law to gain economic advantages over their U.S. competitors.

The scenario: “A Norwegian company (NAI), who holds an Air Carrier Certificate (AOC) from Ireland. However, the company is owned by Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS), an airline based in Norway. NAS established NAI in Ireland, (which it does not fly to) to avoid application of Norwegian employment laws to NAI’s flight crew. These crew members are not covered by European employment laws, but rather by Asian laws. For example, NAI’s pilots are employed by a Singapore company on individual contracts covered by Singapore law. These same pilots are then contracted to operate NAI’s aircraft with compensation that is substantially below their counterparts who pilot NAS aircraft".

This scenario violates employee protections included in the U.S.-E.U Open Skies agreement, which were designed to stop attempts to undermine “high labor standards”. Article 17 of this Agreement states “opportunities created by the Agreement are not intended to undermine labour standards or the labour-related rights and principles contained in the Parties’ respective laws.”

The reality is that much work still needs to be done. While NAI’s request for exemption has been dismissed, the DOT still has to weigh in on their request for a “permanent foreign air carrier permit”. This request must also be carefully scrutinized and considered on its merits, and with regard for the safety of the flying public. Aviation is crucial component of our U.S. economy, and we must ensure that a level playing field is provided for U.S. carriers to compete globally and to ensure that American labor protections are upheld to the highest standards.

In closing, CAPA would like to thank DOT Secretary Foxx and the Members of Congress who, to date, have opposed NAI’s request. Moving forward, CAPA will continue to ensure that your concerns are heard on Capitol Hill as we advocate on behalf of the piloting profession. 

Read the full text of the decision. (click here).