Congressman Sires' Statement on DOT's Tentative Norwegian Air International Decision
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Sires issued the following statement expressing disappointment over the Department of Transportation (DOT)’s decision to tentatively grant Norwegian Air International (NAI) the right to fly to the United States.
“I am disappointed with DOT’s Show Cause Order issued today that may grant NAI a foreign air carrier permit and allow the company to fly to the U.S. Despite NAI’s claim to be an Irish airline, it is owned by a Norwegian parent company and does not operate flights to or from Ireland. The Irish flag-of-convenience allows NAI to hire its Bangkok-based flight crews under independent contracts through a recruitment firm based in Singapore in order to skirt Norwegian labor laws.
I remain concerned that granting NAI’s application for a foreign air carrier permit is not in the public interest and would unfairly put domestic airlines at a competitive disadvantage. Moreover, I reiterate my belief that NAI’s flag-of-convenience business model does not comply with provisions of the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement that state that any new air services into the U.S. must meet certain agreed upon labor standards. Granting this application will set a dangerous precedent and send a message to new air carriers wishing to fly into the U.S.
The facts of the matter have clearly demonstrated that the application should be categorically denied. I will continue to work in a bipartisan manner with the hundreds of Members of Congress who signed the letter that I led with Rep. Collins (R-NC) to Secretary Foxx noting our concern and opposition in an effort to ensure that U.S. workers are allowed to compete on a level playing field. The decision by DOT today does the opposite.”