Representatives Peter DeFazio and Rick Larsen, both Democrats, and Republicans Frank LoBiondo and Lynn Westmoreland, confirmed last night that they have introduced a bipartisan bill that would prevent the US Department of Transportation (DoT) from permitting a foreign air carrier to operate between European countries and the US unless the carrier complies with basic, fair US or EU labour standards.
The legislation was introduced in response to the DoT’s tentative decision earlier this month to grant a permit to Norwegian Airline's Irish subsidiary, Norwegian Air International (NAI), to operate flights between Ireland and the US.
It comes days after Norwegian's boss, Bjorn Kjos, said he hope to start the Cork to Boston service in August, pending formal DoT approval expected late next month.
The representatives claim that NAI set up in Ireland, where labour laws permit it to hire pilots and crew on individual contracts under non-EU law to cut costs.
Mr De Fazio claimed NAI’s "overt practice of labour forum-shopping" violates the EU-US Open Skies deal and gives the airline an unfair competitive advantage in the transatlantic market.
Norwegian has always insisted that it complies fully with Open Skies. The US DoT has also said there is no legal impediment to the granting of a foreign carrier permit.
Cork Airport is expected to fight the move.