Norwegian Air’s proposed Boston flights opposed by US congressman Peter DeFazio
Representative one of a group asked by Irish business to support the service in May
Norwegian Air Shuttle plans to offer low-cost flights from Europe to the US, including routes from the Cork and Shannon. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
One of the US congressmen lobbied by Irish businesses to allow Norwegian Air International to launch services from Cork and Shannon to Boston says he is opposed to the plan.
Irish-based Norwegian plans to offer low-cost flights from Europe to the US, including routes from the Republic, but Washington has delayed for two years in granting it a permit in the face of pressure from rivals and unions.
US congressman Peter DeFazio has written to the EU’s transport commissioner, Violeta Bulc, repeating a claim made by Norwegian’s opponents that it is using the Republic as a flag of convenience to skirt labour protections and hire crews via Asian subcontractors.
The congressman, who is a member of the House of Representative committee on transportation and infrastructure, says that if “Norwegian were a US carrier, these practices would not be acceptable under US law”.
A Norwegian spokesman said Mr DeFazio’s claims have been already been dismissed. “The fact remains that Norwegian Air International is an approved and fully operational EU carrier that meets all requirements under the EU-US Open Skies Agreement,” he said.
Mr DeFazio is one of a group of congressmen to which high-profile Irish business and political figures wrote in May pointing out that such claims were wrong and in some cases malicious.
The letter, to all members of the bipartisan group, Friends of Ireland, was signed by Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) chief executive, Eamonn Brennan, Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary, Fáilte Ireland chariman, Michael Cawley and European Parliament member, Deirdre Clune, amongst others.
The airline’s parent, Norwegian Air Shuttle, registered it in the Republic so it could benefit from the EU-US open skies air transport treaty, which allows European airlines open access to the US.
However, the US department of transportation’s refusal to grant it a permit means that it cannot fly there. The issue has caused a rift between Washington and the EU, which now wants the it to go to arbitration.