Having received its long-awaited approval to operate U.S. flights through an Ireland-based subsidiary, Norwegian Air Group will shortly announce three-way routes that originate in Europe, go to the U.S. and then continue on to South America.

"That will be something that we will see soon," Norwegian Air spokeswoman Real Hamilton-Romeo said in an interview Monday.

South America routes will be part of a quickening expansion of Norwegian's transatlantic service that will be made possible by the Department of Transportation's approval Friday of a foreign air certificate for Norwegian Air International (NAI), as well as by the airline's plan to take delivery of nine Boeing 787 Dreamliners and six 737-Max aircraft next year.

Norwegian has already been expanding aggressively in the U.S. and the Caribbean under its Norway-based Norwegian Air Shuttle brand. The carrier now operates a total of 47 routes to Europe and the Caribbean from eight U.S. cities.

But it will be easier for Norwegian to expand its service into South America now that NAI has been approved, Hamilton-Romeo said, because Ireland is a member of the European Union while Norway is not. As a result, NAI can more easily take advantage of EU aviation agreements than Norwegian Air Shuttle.

Hamilton-Romeo said that the first new route announcements resulting from the NAI approval will come very soon, and will likely be for flights from Cork, Ireland, to the northeast U.S.

The general public won't notice a difference between flights operated under the NAI license and those operated under Norwegian's longer-standing foreign air permit, as they will be marketed under the same brand and have the same livery.

Hamilton-Romeo's comments came on a day in which Norwegian announced an increase in its service from London to the U.S., though the decision had been made before last Friday's DOT ruling.

The low-cost transatlantic carrier will up its total frequencies between London Gatwick and Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Los Angeles, Oakland and New York from 20 per week to 32 per week over the course of next spring and summer.

Meanwhile, Norwegian announced Saturday that it will open pilot and flight attendant training bases in New York and Boston next year to accompany its base in Fort Lauderdale. The carrier said that it would create at least another 150 American flight attendant and pilot jobs next year.

During the nearly 3-year review process for the NAI permit, U.S. unions, accompanied by Delta, American and United, vigorously opposed approval, saying that Norwegian Air was seeking to use Ireland as a so-called flag of convenience in order to take advantage of employment laws that are laxer than those of Norway.

On Monday, Ed Wytkind, executive director of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, said that if Norwegian lives up to its commitment to hire U.S. crew under U.S. law, "then that's a good thing."

But he said that Norwegian employs some of its European flight crew under contracts signed with a Singapore-based employment agency.

The AFL-CIO, he said, is urging President Obama to reverse the DOT ruling.


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