Though it’s a popular airline, Norwegian Air may run into some issues flying to its United States destinations if a bill introduced earlier this month is passed limiting so-called “flag of convenience” carriers from entering the country.
With rapid expansion, Norwegian Air has been aggressively targeting the United States as a new long-haul business destination. The carrier currently flies to 15 destinations throughout the country, including Seattle, New York City, Boston, and Chicago.
But things may soon be changing for the low-cost airline due to a bill recently introduced by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, called the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. The bipartisan effort is designed to run for five years, increase aviation infrastructure investment, introduce industry reforms, and fund the Federal Aviation Authority.
One of those reforms could spell trouble for Norwegian. Section 530 (C) of the bill prevents “entry into United States markets by flag of convenience carriers.” The bill further defines those carriers as “a foreign air carrier that is established in a country other than the home country of its majority owner or owners in order to avoid regulations of the home country.”
That could be an issue for Norwegian, which has multiple companies registered in multiple countries: Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA (NAS) based in Fornebu, Norway; Norwegian Air International Ltd. (NAI) based in Dublin; and Norwegian UK (NUK) based in London. Critics of the airline say by having multiple companies in different locations, the airline is attempting to avoid Scandinavian regulations.
“The [Reauthorization Act] makes clear under the European Union-U.S. Open Skies agreement that labor standards shouldn’t be upended by foreign airlines, and bars the Department of Transportation from issuing an air carrier permit or an exemption from the rules to any EU provider,” Teamsters Airline Division Director Capt. David Bourne told Paddle Your Own Kanoo. “The Teamsters implore Congress to pass this provision so the rights of U.S. airline workers are protected.”