July 7, 2016 | Kendall Creighton Website News Legislation Help! I’m Stranded Media Contact Get EUsed To It July 6 , 2016 Like Whack-a mole: you clobber one rival, and another pops up. Norwegian Airs bid to fly new American routes is under fire from US unions In the space of a week, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) halted expansion plans by Norwegian Air at the same time that WOW air, Iceland’s low-cost carrier, celebrated new flights to the US! Labor unions heralded DOT’s rebuke against Norwegian Air, but have been silent on Wow Air – seemingly caught off guard by the plucky airline. Pushing the envelope Norwegian Air continues to push for more long-haul routes despite fierce opposition from an alliance of the biggest US carriers, airline labor unions and politicians – including Hillary Clinton. Norwegian applied for its latest US permit over two years ago, seeking approval for new routes between the US and Asia, Africa and South America. Currently the airline is permitted to fly between the US and Europe. The DOT’s decision won’t affect those routes, which it flies with a license granted by Norwegian regulators. However, the DOT dealt a blow to its expansion plans when it turned down the airline’s request for temporary permit to operate the new flights. It had been expected the permit would be granted, following an earlier approval in April allowing the airline to fly between Cork and Boston. US regulators said they needed more time to review Norwegian’s ‘complex’ application, which had received support from British aviation authorities and London’s Gatwick airport, saying Norwegian employs 800 workers in that country. U.S. airports such as Orlando and Oakland, which are scheduled to receive new Norwegian routes this year, also supported the application. Cracks In The Armor Americans have benefited somewhat from US’s low-cost airlines within their own country, but so much not across the Atlantic. Critics have said Norwegian is trying to circumvent some labor and tax rules with the overseas bases to lower its costs – charges that Norwegian rejects. These arguments going back and forth about which airline gets what subsidy are just the latest chapter in a dismal tale. For all the talk of “open skies”, the aviation industry is and always has been riddled with protectionism and patronage, bail-outs and handouts. Once it was the American railways complaining about unfair competition from the young airline industry. Now it is the airlines moaning about unfair competition from foreign carriers. All the while the interests of the consumers and taxpayers gets forgotten. Ryanair will start feeding passengers to Norwegian Air Shuttle from airports including Dublin, Cork and Belfast according to chief executive Michael O’Leary. Why Big US Carriers Should Be Terrified We haven’t mentioned Ryanair, the most successful airline in recent years. Speculation is that it has agreed to do a partnership to feed with Norwegian, an airline that is doing trans-Atlantic from airports in Ryanair’s own home country of Ireland, and which has integrated its booking systems with Ryanair. This is why big US carriers should be terrified, Ryanair is getting into long-haul by proxy. FlyersRights’ Comments To The DOT Answer of FlyersRights.org re. the application of Norwegian Air International for an Exemption and Foreign Air Carrier Permit – click to enlarge. NAI will inject competition into new markets, driving fares lower for consumers and increasing service to underserved communities. Approval of NAI’s application would produce innovative, pro-competitive, proconsumer, and pro-growth public interest benefits in the highly concentrated transatlantic market. Notwithstanding a vocal minority of opponents, Flyer’s Rights, on behalf of all airline passengers, and key aviation stakeholders including consumers, airports, mid-size communities, tourism destinations, travel distributors, travel agents, cargo airlines and their customers, other commercial airlines, plane manufacturers and their suppliers, managed-travel operations, and American job seekers – fully supports NAI. Get Quoted In The New York Times! Dear Readers: The New York Times is writing an article on the tiny lavatories that have been configured to squeeze in more seats of the new 737-900 aircraft. Flight attendants have expressed concern about safety issues issues related to the lack of space. The paper wants to hear from ‘passengers-of-size’ regarding how difficult it is to use these lavatories. Are you a traveler who has had difficulty with these smaller restrooms, who would be willing to be interviewed? Questions are about the problems of getting into the restroom and opinion of the new design. Are larger passengers forced to use the toilet at the airport before getting onto their flight? What airline did you fly, and did you complain to anyone about the new design? The interview would take about 15 minutes over the phone. Email: kendallc@FlyersRights.org to participate! Read & Sign our Petitions! Getting on a Plane? Put This Number in Your Phone: 1 (877) Flyers6 1 (877) 359-3776 The FlyersRights HOTLINE! We publish w eekly newsletters. There’s no charge to receive any of them: FlyersRights relies solely on your donations. All you have to do is click below: Follow FlyersRights on Twitter!