An Open Letter to the U.S. Congress…

As former Secretaries of Transportation, we support the application of Norwegian Air International currently pending before DOT to provide low-fare transatlantic service to the United States. Through our public statements, we have encouraged approval of Norwegian’s application because the carrier satisfies all legal and regulatory requirements contained in U.S. law and the binding U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement.

We are compelled to speak out once more as opponents are using the opportunity of Norwegian’s application as a means to block competition and deny choice to consumers in transatlantic air travel. These efforts, which now involve using the legislative process in the House and Senate, harken back to the fallen era of protectionism in international aviation and, if successful, would allow the European Union to pursue retaliatory measures against the United States and our domestic carriers.

Having witnessed first-hand the benefits of U.S. Open Skies policy, we can state unequivocally that it is one of the most successful, proconsumer, pro-growth initiatives implemented by our government during the previous two decades. The underpinnings of our Open Skies agreements have been the opening of international aviation markets through air service agreements that remove restrictions on the destinations, the frequency and capacity of flights, and the fares that U.S. and foreign airlines may offer their customers. These international agreements have been an economic generator of jobs and opportunity here at home, increased America’s global competitiveness, and strengthened our domestic aviation industry.

We are dismayed by the current attempts of U.S. carriers and organized labor – both of which have benefitted greatly from the liberalization of air transportation – to undermine Open Skies and restrict competition in the market, which undoubtedly will allow transatlantic air fares to remain needlessly inflated and out of reach for many American consumers.

We have no formal stake in the outcome of Norwegian’s application before DOT other than pride in our efforts, as former Secretaries of DOT, to reduce transatlantic barriers enabling a new, innovative low-fare European carrier the ability to compete against the world’s largest airlines. We also do not know whether Norwegian Air International will succeed in the market with its plan for low-cost, low-fare transatlantic air service.

We do know that U.S. law, and our international agreements and commitments, compel the United States government to approve Norwegian’s application and allow it to compete in the marketplace. As such, we encourage Congress to resist efforts intended to pressure DOT into denying Norwegian Air International’s application and, ultimately, undermine the successful, pro-consumer policy of Open Skies.

Respectfully,
The Honorable Andrew H. Card, Jr.,
The Honorable Norman Y. Mineta, &
The Honorable Mary Peters