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
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
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