U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dan Coats (R-IN), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Roy Blunt (R-MO) today introduced a bipartisan amendment to block Norwegian Air International (NAI) flights to the U.S. that would undercut American carriers. Norwegian Air recently applied for a foreign air carrier permit to operate flights to and from the U.S., but the airline is attempting to circumvent regulations that would put U.S. carriers at a competitive disadvantage. To help protect American airline carriers and maintain a level playing field, the Senators introduced a bipartisan amendment to prohibit the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) from approving Norwegian Air's permit unless the airline complies with existing protections. An identical amendment passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month.
"Expanding air travel between the United States and Europe will boost our economy, but foreign airlines need to follow the rules of the runway," said Senator Klobuchar. "Norwegian Air is trying to get out of important rules that are designed to preserve competition, threatening to undercut American carriers in the process. Our bipartisan amendment will ensure that Norwegian Air isn't cleared for takeoff to the U.S. until the airline comes into compliance with existing laws that ensure a level playing field."
"Norwegian Air's efforts to register its aircraft in Ireland violate the intent of the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement and put U.S. airlines and their employees at a competitive disadvantage," said Senator Coats. "Our amendment ensures that no carrier is above the rules or receives a foreign air carrier permit unless it complies with provisions included in the Open Skies Agreement."
"The U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement was a historic agreement that not only expanded opportunities for consumers and businesses, but protected our reasonable labor standards," said Senator Schatz. "Our bipartisan amendment will support the integrity of the agreement and the labor standards that protect American jobs. I strongly support fair competition that does not come at the expense of the U.S. airline industry."
U.S. law under the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement requires the DOT to apply a public interest standard when reviewing and approving foreign air carrier permits to ensure that U.S. air carriers are at least on an equal footing with foreign carriers.