The chairman of the US House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has urged the US transportation secretary to deny a permit for a new low-cost Norwegian carrier to enter the US domestic market.
In a statement released ahead of a hearing on Thursday March 25, Representative Peter DeFazio urged Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to deny Norse Atlantic permission to enter the US market.
Earlier this week, Reuters reported that the budget airline is planning to fly from US destinations such as New York, Los Angeles and Miami to European cities including London, Paris and Oslo, with a goal of launching its first flight in December this year.
Get a FREE Digital Subscription!Enjoy full access to Hospitality Ireland, our weekly email news digest, all website and app content, and every digital issue.
A spokesperson for Buttigieg declined to comment ahead of the hearing.
Norse, which is in the process of raising 1.28 billion Norwegian crowns ($149 million) from institutional investors ahead of an expected stock market listing in Oslo next month, said that it is confident of receiving the required permits.
"The operation will be in line with the agreements that regulate air traffic between Europe and the US," Norse said in a statement.
Founder and former CEO of Norwegian Air Bjoern Kjos holds a 15% stake in Norse Atlantic, which is majority owned by Bjoern Tore Larsen, who is a co-founder of staffing company OSM Aviation, Norse Atlantic Airways said in a statement announcing the new carrier.
The airline will seek to fill a gap left by Norwegian, which offered low-cost transatlantic flights until mounting debt and the collapse of travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to exit its long-haul business, leaving a slimmed-down airline focusing on Nordic and European routes.
DeFazio argued that the US Transportation Department in 2016 "imprudently issued" a foreign air carrier permit to Norwegian Air's long-haul business, which he said was incorporated in Ireland to avoid Norway's strong labour protections.
"It is imperative that you correct the error of 2016 and deny this airline's application," he said of Norse Atlantic.
The new carrier rejected the comparison with the now-defunct airline.
"Norse Atlantic Airways is a Norwegian company," CEO Bjoern Tore Larsen told Reuters in an e-mail.
The 2016 decision followed a years-long battle between US airlines and Norwegian, setting off an ever-escalating transatlantic fare war between US carriers and foreign budget competitors.
"We know that American consumers want an airline that can fly them safely and comfortably across the Atlantic at a low fare, and we at Norse Atlantic will deliver just that," Larsen said.
Permanent Employees In The USA
"We will have permanent employees in the USA, in the air and on the ground. We will use Boeing Dreamliner planes and we of course respect the employees' right to unionise if they wish to do so," the CEO said.
News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.