Today, Thursday 9th February, US President Donald Trump is to meet the chief executives of US airlines American, Delta and United, who have asked the administration to block additional flights to the USA by Emirates, Etihad and Qatar, and who, along with trade unions including airline pilots, are opposed to last December’s US Transportation Department decision to allow Norwegian Air International flights from Ireland.
The US airlines claim that the three Middle East carriers have received US$50 billion in government subsidies over the past decade – which the carriers deny and counterclaim that the US carriers are attempting to prevent competition from better equipped, higher service carriers.
Other US carriers, some of whom offer connections to the Middle East carriers, have formed a coalition, US Airlines for Open Skies, whose spokesman, Andrea McCarthy, said: “The demands of the legacy carriers would reduce competition, undermine Open Skies, and harm the American economy. Rather than caving to these demands, we should support Open Skies agreements, which benefit American workers, the American military, made-in-America exports, and American travellers.”
Norwegian Air International
On Wednesday 8th February, airline pilots opposed to Norwegian Air International flights from Ireland to the USA dismissed a White House statement a day earlier that appeared to support Norwegian.
The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents 55,000 pilots at 32 airlines, and other unions have filed a federal appeal to the Transportation Department’s decision in December to allow the Norwegian Air flights. The unions have also called on President Trump to overturn the decision.
However, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Tuesday that Norwegian has hired American-based crews and is buying Boeing aircraft that are “a huge economic interest” for the country.
Anders Lindstrom, a Norwegian spokesman, said the airline flies an all-Boeing fleet of 120 aircraft, has ordered another 120, and will take delivery of nine B787 Dreamliners, six B737 MAX and 17 B737-800 aircraft this year. “No other foreign airline invests more in the American economy or creates more American jobs than Norwegian. We currently have 500 US-based cabin crew and we are the only foreign airline to be recruiting American pilots, all of whom are hired under local laws and regulations with competitive packages.”