EU-US dialogue on Norwegian Air International should focus on Aviation Safety

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Norwegian Air International (Norwegian.com) (Oslo) is a very controversial applicant for a US foreign air carrier permit from the US Department of Transportation. The EU (European Commission) has requested an urgent, unprecedented meeting with the United States to discuss the pending application. As noted in the below headline, this appears to be an effort to force the DoT to accept the application under the existing, primarily economic treaty. The US should change the topic to questioning the capability of the Irish Aviation Authority to assure safety of NAI.

NAI alleges that the US has taken four times as long as to process its request as compared with applications of other European carriers applying for the same authority. That is the basis for the EU-US meeting. What the multi-continental airline (operations headquarters in Norway, certificate in Ireland and staff hiring basis in Thailand and Singapore) does not acknowledge is that its “span of management” poses real problems for any aviation authority to track its operations.

The debate, so far, has been focused almost exclusively on the “Open Skies” Agreement with high level experts interpreting that treaty have made credible cases for both sides of the argument. The right, or better, case should be made that the IAA does not have the resources to constantly surveil the geographically diverse NAI.

There are substantial questions which must be asked about how a small organization with a staff sized to watch over aviation within Ireland’s borders can expand its grasp to NAI’s real operations center, labor pools in Asia and flights to/from North America? The details of such an inquiry pose very sensitive issues between sovereigns! It is most untoward for one CAA to ask an equal CAA whether there is competence to meet its mandate.

Safety, not economics, should be the paramount question of these talks.

ARTICLE: The EU puts additional pressure on the DOT to approve the application of Norwegian Air International

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