Wednesday, September 3, 2014
The U.S. Department of Transportation has dismissed an application by Norwegian Air International (NAI) for an exemption under 49 U.S.C. § 40109, which would have temporarily authorized NAI to operate additional services to the United States while the DOT considers its application for a foreign air carrier permit. The case has been highly contentious since NAI, an Ireland-based subsidiary of the Scandinavian LCC, Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS), announced plans to expand its U.S. service. Labor unions and U.S. carriers have been the primary opponents, accusing Norwegian of pioneering a "flags of convenience" model to avoid labor regulations, while European officials have criticized the United States for engaging in protectionism and ignoring its obligations under the US-EU Open Skies Agreement. Yesterday's decision was only a temporary setback for NAI, as the DOT's final decision on the application is still pending.