WASHINGTON, D.C., August 18, 2014—Norwegian Air International (NAI) today filed comments with the U.S. Department of Transportation confirming its support for the European Commission’s (Commission) views that parties to the US-EU Open Skies Agreement cannot unilaterally deny NAI’s application to serve the U.S. on the basis of Article 17 bis. These views were further confirmed in a Joint Declaration of John Byerly and Daniel Calleja, who chaired the delegations of the United States and European Union, respectively, in the negotiation of the historic Open Skies Agreement, including the 2010 Protocol containing Article 17 bis.
The Commission’s views were expressed in a high level meeting between the U.S. government and Commission officials, where the Commission was asked its views on whether a party to the Open Skies Agreement could unilaterally deny an application of the other party based on the so-called “social dimension” provision of the Agreement – a key argument by NAI’s opponents who have been urging the Department of Transportation to deny NAI’s application. The unequivocal answer from the Commission was “no.” As stated in NAI’s comments “Norwegian International’s application is compelling both because of its legal merits – including the interpretation of Article 17 bis advanced above – and because of the public benefits that its service would provide. Few other carriers that promise to offer so much to the U.S. public have been asked to wait so long for approval from the Department.”
“We commend Secretary Foxx in seeking the Commission’s comments on this pertinent issue – and the Commission for its sound judgment that is consistent with established legal norms of treaty interpretation, the Joint Declaration of the Chairmen of the U.S. and EU delegations who led the negotiation of the historic Open Skies Agreement, and international law,” said Asgeir Nyseth, CEO of Norwegian Air International. “We look forward to DOT promptly granting NAI’s application to bring air service to the U.S., so consumers can finally begin realizing the benefits of competition – including lower fares.”
After meeting all U.S. statutory and regulatory requirements to serve the United States, NAI’s application for authority to fly to the U.S. has been pending with DOT for almost six months – the longest of any other similar carrier’s application.
Nyseth added: “The EC’s position puts to rest, once and for all, the unfounded views advanced by opponents of NAI’s application that seek to deny the public benefits of new American jobs, increased international tourism, economic growth, greater airline competition, lower fares, and new non-stop air service to the transatlantic market currently dominated by the three legacy immunized alliances.” It’s time for the Department to let NAI fly.