| NEW YORK, Sept 2
NEW YORK, Sept 2 U.S. regulators slowed discount
carrier Norwegian Air International Ltd's quest to operate in
the United States on Tuesday, drawing cheers from unions who
said the airline pays low wages and does not meet U.S.
The Department of Transportation rejected the airline's
December 2013 request for an exemption that would have expedited
its entry into the U.S. market, saying "the novel and complex
nature of this case (does not make an exemption) appropriate or
in the public interest."
Regulators now will undergo an exhaustive review to
determine whether Norwegian Air International may fly to the
United States, the Department of Transportation said.
Norwegian Air International is a unit of Norwegian Air
Shuttle ASA incorporated in Ireland.
Norwegian Air Shuttle, based in Fornebu, Norway, already
flies to the United States from Europe, and those operations are
not affected by the decision Tuesday, the airline said in a
statement. The company's niche is offering low-cost
international travel using Boeing Co 787 Dreamliners.
The company's effort to get a U.S. foreign carrier permit
for its Irish subsidiary has garnered support from the European
Commission and the government of Ireland, Norwegian said.
But opponents include Delta Air Lines Inc, American
Airlines Group, United Continental Holdings Ltd
and other U.S. carriers, the Association of Flight Attendants,
the Transportation Trades Department AFL-CIO and the
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
"The U.S. Department of Transportation took an important
stand for fair competition today," Air Line Pilots Association
Lee Moak said in a statement.
He added, "the DOT's work is not yet complete in making
certain that (the airline) is not permitted to exploit
international aviation policy and law to gain an unfair economic
advantage over U.S. airlines."
Norwegian Air International Chief Executive Asgeir Nyseth
said in a statement that the airline "stands behind its
business" and "looks forward to receiving approval to operate
without further delay."
(Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in New York and Ros Krasny in
Washington; Editing by Alwyn Scott, Bernard Orr)