Rules of convenience and alternative facts abound on Norwegian Air's application
© Wikimedia Commons

The old adage, “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” never seemed more apropos than right now. In December 2013, the Norwegian Group submitted Norwegian Air International’s application for a foreign air carrier permit. Although the Department of Transportation’s vetting process took nearly three years to complete, the Department granted NAI’s application concluding – over the objections of the unions – that there was no legal basis to deny NAI. During that three-year period, we fervently defended our legal right to operate transatlantic flights – as well as our local hiring practices, safety record and United States growth strategy.

When we finally received the DOT’s approval this past December, we thought the negativity and disparaging comments were behind us. However, as the New Year began, some unions continued to stage protests in an effort to prevent NAI’s operations. These distractions are a futile attempt at placing NAI on the defense, instead of being squarely focused on outlining the future of our operations and the benefits they will bring for the U.S. in the form of new jobs, more tourism, and support of one of America’s largest manufacturers, Boeing.

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I will not address Norwegian’s safety record. I will not address that we have 500 U.S.-based employees (and will add at least 150 more this year) or their competitive salaries. I will not address the thousands of other American jobs that are generated in the tourism and manufacturing industries each time Norwegian launches a new route. Instead, I will address what is really happening here; a handful of labor groups and other outspoken opponents are afraid of a little good old-fashioned competition. It seems they not only oppose fair competition, but they also seem to suggest that the rules established by the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement should be selectively applied to suit their purposes instead of those who really stand to benefit – the flying public.

The fact of the matter is the DOT’s approval of NAI paves the way for greater competition, more flights and more jobs on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. These attacks – which are neither based in fact nor reality – are a last ditch attempt by a vocal few to undermine the DOT’s decision and NAI’s high-quality low-cost transatlantic operation. Above all, millions of travelers will benefit from having more choices and lower fares. 

So what are these groups actually afraid of? Losing the stronghold that they have on the American travel industry? Lacking membership dues to line their own coffers? Instead of improving the overall travel experience, they choose to attack a small airline that is making it more affordable for people to travel. Additionally, the labor unions choose to share “alternative facts” with their members in hopes of keeping them tethered to the old guard instead of seeking career opportunities with an industry disruptor.

I offer this: instead of instilling fear in the hearts and minds of American aviation professionals with grossly inaccurate and constantly regurgitated information, come talk to us. I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight for the labor unions and their members – as well as anyone else who is interested in learning what NAI is really about. We have nothing to hide, and you have nothing to fear.

Asgeir Nyseth is Chief Operating Officer at Norwegian Group.


The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.