Norwegian dispute over US flights to go to arbitration

Norwegian dispute over US flights to go to arbitration

An arbitration procedure is to be started by the European Commission to resolve a dispute between Norwegian and US regulators over the budget carrier's plan to fly transatlantic routes from Ireland.

The delay in granting flying rights to Norwegian's Irish subsidiary is seen as a breach of the EU-US open skies agreement.

The Irish arm, Norwegian Air International, applied for permission to operate flights to the US more than two years ago.

But it has faced opposition from unions and some US carriers, which say Europe's third-biggest low fares carrier would undermine wages and working standards.

EU transport commissioner Violeta Bulc sent a letter to US transportation secretary Anthony Foxx on Tuesday informing him the Commission had consulted EU member states and would invoke arbitration, Reuters reported.

The US Department of Transportation provisionally approved Norwegian's request in April, giving opponents three weeks to file objections, but there has been no final decision.

A spokesman for the airline said: “The EU Commission previously stated that it will seek arbitration with US authorities if they decline to approve Norwegian Air International´s application for a US foreign air carrier permit.

“We are very pleased if the EU Commission is seeking arbitration with US authorities to solve this long overdue issue.

“Norwegian Air International is an approved and fully operational EU carrier that meets all requirements under the open skies agreement between the EU and the US.

“A final approval will lead to more new jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, more new transatlantic routes and more affordable fares."

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