White House spokesman hints that Trump won't revoke Norwegian Air permit


White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday suggested that the Trump administration looks favorably on the foreign air carrier permit that the Obama administration granted to Norwegian Air's Ireland-based subsidiary in December.

"There is a huge economic benefit that lies in that deal right now," Spicer said, referring to Norwegian's plan to purchase more than 100 Boeing aircraft and noting that Norwegian has committed to hiring U.S. workers.

His comments came at the White House daily press briefing Tuesday in response to a question from Newsmax reporter John Gizzi ahead of a Thursday meeting between Trump and U.S. airline executives.

Spicer said that the subject matter of the meeting has not yet been determined.

His comments about Ireland-based Norwegian Air International are likely to get the attention of both the discount transatlantic carrier and Norwegian's opponents -- Delta, American, United and U.S. airline labor unions.

The opponents have pressed their lobbying efforts in recent weeks in hopes that the Trump administration would reverse the Norwegian Air International approval.

Parent Norwegian Air Group already flies cheap transatlantic flights to the U.S. through a Norway-based entity. The Big 3 airlines accuse the company of setting up the Irish entity in order to take advantage of that country's labor laws, which are laxer than those of Norway.

Norwegian, however, says that it sought the permit to ease network planning. Ireland, unlike Norway, is a member of the EU. As a result, says Norwegian, flights scheduled under the permit can more easily take advantage of EU trade agreements than those scheduled under its Norway-based air certificate.


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