Trade group supports Norwegian Air's international expansion

By Bill Poling
In an unusual action, the Travel Technology Association has filed a document at the Transportation Department in support of Norwegian Air International's pending bid to expand its low-fare transatlantic service.

Travel Tech is the trade association of GDSs, online travel agencies and other travel-technology interests. It rarely if ever gets involved in DOT licensing actions, but said in a statement that it filed in support of Norwegian because it believes the carrier's plans will "benefit consumers by providing additional low-cost options for travel to and from the US while creating jobs, and improving travel and tourism economies."

In the filing, Travel Tech reminded the DOT that "transatlantic flights are dominated by the three major air carrier alliances. While capacity has not increased over the previous three to five years, prices have. ... Importantly, Norwegian Air's proposed service will open the transatlantic market to leisure travelers in new and welcomed ways."

Norwegian, an offshoot of Norwegian Air Shuttle, is serving the U.S. from points in Scandinavia but plans to introduce nonstop service between the U.S. and London Gatwick under the U.S.-E.U. Open Skies agreement.

As part of that plan, as reported, the company is seeking to establish itself as an air carrier of Ireland and to outsource some of its flying operation to contract pilots managed by a staffing agency in Asia.

Union groups on both sides of the Atlantic have opposed the plan as a ruse to avoid Norwegian labor laws. 

But because Norwegian also plans to hire some U.S. crews, and to acquire additional Boeing aircraft, Travel Tech told the DOT that the service would bring additional benefits to the U.S. economy, such as direct job creation and increased inbound travel.
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