EU to meet with U.S. over embattled Norwegian airline; carrier wants low-cost fare for Americans

By Kellan Howell – The Washington Times – Saturday, October 11, 2014

The European Commission requested an urgent meeting on Friday between the European Union and the United States to discuss the pending application for low-cost flight carrier Norwegian Air International.

The Department of Transportation continues to delay a final decision on the application, which would allow the NAI to offer cheap flights between the U.S. and Europe.

The new airline, a branch of Norwegian Air Shuttle, would offer flights as cheap as $150 each way, a business venture that has sparked controversy among legacy carriers and airline unions, who claim that the Norwegian business model mirrors the flailing cruise line industry and presents dangerous safety and oversight issues.

But officials at NAI say that U.S. carriers are simply afraid of competition, citing research that most travelers want to travel to Europe but are unable to because of high costs.

The Department has taken nearly four times longer to approve NAI’s application than it has for an other European carriers, according a news release from NAI.

NAI hopes the EU and U.S. will be able to move forward with the application and argue that under the U.S.-EU “Open Skies” agreement, both parties are obligated to grant operating authority “with minimum procedural delay.”

“We are confident that the Department of Transportation will do the right thing and grant our application without further delay,” NAI CEO Asgeir Nyseth said. “We look forward to bringing new competitive and affordable fares on new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft to the U.S.-Europe market.”

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