OSLO Feb 5 Airline unions and pilots groups
asked European and U.S. authorities on Wednesday to deny
Norwegian Air Shuttle's request for a new long-haul
license, accusing the budget carrier of trying to avoid taxes
and skirt labour laws.
Norwegian this year became the only European budget airline
to launch long-haul operations, flying to North America and Asia
from the Nordics with its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
It now plans to register the operation in Ireland and keep
using Thai crew along with some American staff.
Labour groups including the transportation sector of AFL-CIO
and the Air Line Pilots Association International argued that
the plans are intended to take advantage of regulatory loopholes
and leave safety oversight in doubt.
"This setup will deny the workers their fundamental rights,
the freedom to assemble, the freedom to collectively bargain,"
Lee Moak, the president of the Air Line Pilots Association
International told a news conference in Oslo after meeting with
He added that the plan would give the carrier an unfair
economic advantage over other European and U.S. airlines.
Describing the claims as false, Norwegian's spokeswoman
Anne-Sissel Skaanvik said: "We follow all the laws and
regulations in all the markets we operate in and we offer
competitive wages to all of our employees."
Attempts to fly cheap long-haul routes date back to the
1970s, when Laker Airways flew from London to New York. It went
bankrupt in 1982 when rivals cut fares and squeezed it out of
Norwegian started flying on relatively uncompetitive routes
such as between Oslo and Fort Lauderdale, but now plans to
launch a London-New York service.
It said it can afford to undercut its rivals, sometimes by
20 to 40 percent, due to the Dreamliner's 20 percent lower
The Irish Aviation Authority rejected any suggestion it was
not capable of oversight. "The IAA already provides safety
regulation of Ryanair to the highest international
standards," it said.