This time it's airline pilot and cabin crew unions, along with major US airlines, who have joined forces in trying to prevent upstart airline Norwegian Air International from offering deeply discounted travel between Europe and the USA.
Although NAI has the right to fly to the U.S., it first must obtain formal authorization from the Department of Transportation. NAI submitted its application in December and completed all DOT requirements in February, when it received its air operator certificate. This is where the airline is encountering some rough weather.
In an email to The Daily Signal, a spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association International, which calls itself the world’s largest union of airline pilots, identified more than 100 members of Congress who have “weighed in with the DOT against NAI’s application for a foreign air carrier permit.”
. . .
If the lobbying efforts against NAI by the pilots union and three major U.S. airlines are successful, U.S. consumers and workers will lose out, Norwegian spokesman Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen told The Daily Signal.
“Our opposition is delaying the process,” Sandaker-Nielsen said. “This is outrageous because we have fulfilled our obligations under the Open Skies agreement.
The airline’s spokesman added: “It’s ironic that elected officials in a country where capitalism and the free market are celebrated are not making a decision based on the facts that show how we are bringing in competition, lowering prices and creating jobs. The Obama administration has been pretty outspoken about the fact that it wants more tourism coming to the U.S., and this is what we are doing.”
. . .
James Sherk, a labor policy analyst with The Heritage Foundation, said consumers need to be on the lookout for an anti-competition move on Capitol Hill that would put everyday Americans at a disadvantage while rewarding entrenched interests.
“Norwegian Air’s entry into the international flight market would reduce the monopoly profits of the existing airlines and pressure their unions to make concessions to reduce costs and keep customers,” Sherk said, adding:
“Neither labor nor management at incumbent airlines want that to happen. They would rather have the government shut down their prospective competitor rather than have to earn their customers’ business with better services at lower cost. If successful, they will keep international flight an expensive luxury outside the budgets of many middle class families.”
There's more at the link.
The discounts are pretty good, too.
Compare flights offered by the established transatlantic carriers out of the United States—namely United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines—against the service Norwegian launched last year.
On American, for instance, a round-trip ticket June 2 and 9 from New York-JFK International Airport to Oslo costs about $1,440. The same flight on Norwegian? Around $862. That’s a $578 difference.
Again, more at the link.
You bet I'd like a 40% discount on transatlantic air travel - but as far as the established airlines and staff unions are concerned, protecting their own interests is more important. Given the pro-union disposition of the Obama administration, I suspect Norwegian Air International is going to encounter some pretty stiff legal and regulatory headwinds . . .