Norwegian crew lobby Washington for US permit approval

Flight attendants employed by low-cost carrier Norwegian have lobbied Washington in an effort to win the green light to expand transatlantic services.

They delivered a letter to the Obama administration urging the “swift approval” of a foreign air carrier permit application submitted by Norwegian’s affiliate, Norwegian Air International.

Approval of the foreign carrier permit application has been pending for more than a year in the face of opposition from established US carriers.

NAI wants to “substantially expand” services between the US and Europe.

More than 300 US flight attendants work for Norwegian at crew bases in New York City and Fort Lauderdale and 50 took part in the lobbying exercise yesterday.

Joseph Gabriel, chief cabin crew at Fort Lauderdale, said: “Norwegian is a future-oriented airline that is not only creating jobs within the airline, but also within the entire tourism industry by bringing several hundred thousand tourists to the US every year.

“It’s about time that NAI is approved so that Norwegian can continue to offer the American traveller non-stop transatlantic destinations at lower and more competitive fares.”

The letter to Obama says: “We humbly request that your administration approve NAI’s permit, which will deliver substantial economic and job creation opportunities to America’s communities, help achieve your stated goal of significantly increasing foreign tourism to the US, and provide the public on both sides of the Atlantic a new, consumer-friendly option in air travel.”

It says that crew have left US legacy carriers because the wages and benefits at Norwegian are better.

“Of the 5,500 US applications Norwegian received, we are among the 300 selected for cabin crew posts. Along with cabin crew, Norwegian is poised to begin hiring its first series of US-based pilots to operate the carrier’s trans-Atlantic service.

“As a fully-licensed European carrier meeting all US statutory and regulatory requirements to serve the United States, NAI is entitled to be granted ‘appropriate authorisations and permissions with minimum procedural delay’ by [US] Department for Transportation – which is provided for under the US-EU open skies agreement.

“However, opponents of Norwegian are working to undermine NAI’s application and its ability to serve the United States. Such efforts go against America’s international commitments and go against the American spirit of competition.”

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