The ads paid for by the pilots union urge the U.S. government to stop the carrier's "dangerous scheme" by denying it permission to fly into the country. The ads were called "slanderous" Thursday by a spokesman for Norwegian Air International.
The Air Line Pilots Association is urging transportation officials to deny the company's request. It claims the company's structure threatens jobs in the U.S. and could pose a safety risk.
May 16--The nation's biggest pilots union is stepping up efforts to keep a low-cost Norwegian carrier from bringing new flights to Orlando International Airport with a series of online and radio ads that call the company "underhanded" and raise questions about its safety.
The ads, running in markets targeted by Norwegian Air International, urge the U.S. government to stop the carrier's "dangerous scheme" by denying it permission to fly into the country.
The ads, which have appeared on local websites including OrlandoSentinel.com, were called "slanderous" Thursday by a spokesman for Norwegian Air International. Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen said union representatives "know nothing about" his company and are simply trying to block competition.
The dispute focuses on Norwegian Air International, a low-cost subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle.
Norwegian Air International has asked the U.S. Department of Transportation for permission to fly into a handful of U.S. cities, including Orlando.
The city would be served by two flights a week to Oslo. Both Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and officials with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority support the plan.
But the Air Line Pilots Association is urging transportation officials to deny the company's request. It claims the company's structure threatens jobs in the U.S. and could pose a safety risk.
That's because although the airline and its aircraft are based in Norway, NAI registers its planes in Ireland and bases its flight crews in Thailand. The union says Irish safety regulators will have little chance to ensure that the planes are properly maintained and the crews properly trained -- -- a claim rejected by Irish officials, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The pilots union says NAI is registered in Ireland to avoid Norwegian labor laws and control costs.
"The planes will never pass through Ireland," said Steve Jangelis, an Orlando pilot and union safety committee member. "How will you have oversight?"
Jangelis, in a March op-ed piece, also said if NAI is permitted into the U.S., other "foreign airline companies will ... scour the globe in search of cheap labor." He said U.S. carriers -- and jobs -- would be in jeopardy if they were forced to compete on an uneven playing field.
Sandaker-Nielsen said NAI crews have "better wages and benefits than their U.S. counterparts." He said NAI is registered in Ireland to gain access to flying rights granted to countries that are part of the European Union. Norway is not a member of the EU, but Ireland is.
Sandaker-Nielsen says the pilots union is attacking the company because it is "afraid of competition."
He said Norwegian has already hired more than 300 crew members in Fort Lauderdale and New York and is recruiting pilots for its Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
"Our presence in the U.S. will not only create more jobs in the airline industry," he said, "but thousands of new jobs in travel and tourism-related industries."
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