Pilots challenge licence for Irish-based transatlantic carrier

Washington to ‘tentatively’ approve Norwegian Air International’s application for a foreign carrier’s permit

European pilots have vowed to continue to challenge a US decision to grant an Irish-based airline a licence to fly there on the grounds that it will undermine aviation industry pay and conditions.

Washington’s department of transportation has decided to “tentatively” approve Irish-registered Norwegian Air International’s application for a foreign carrier’s permit, paving the way for it to offer low-cost flights between the EU and US, including a proposed Cork-Boston service.

The move angered the European Cockpit Association (ECA), which represents pilots across the EU. Its president, Dirk Polloczek, said the organisation would work with European and US colleagues to prevent the approval being made permanent.


Mr Polloczek accused the US and


European Commission

of undermining their own airline industries and “destroy decent jobs and the social rights of their own citizens” by allowing the airline fly between the US and EU.

Pilots' unions on both sides of the Atlantic accuse the airline of using the Republic as a flag of convenience to hire cheap labour. The ECA said yesterday that the airline engages crew nominally based in Bangkok through a company in Singapore. However, the staff work on flights to and from Europe. This allows it to avoid EU employee protection legislation.


Norwegian Air International

has always dismissed these claims.

Bjorn Kjos

, chief executive of its parent, Norwegian Air Shuttle, says that it employs crew under Irish law.

The airline recently told the US department of transportation and the Irish Aviation Authority that only EU and US citizens would crew its transatlantic flights.

The Scandinavian group registered its subsidiary in the Republic in order to get the benefit of agreements that allow airlines licensed in one EU country to fly from any member state to the US.

Mr Kjos said it chose the Republic because it has a high standard of safety regulation and it is a centre for aircraft finance.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas