Washington DC – Today, Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issued the following statement regarding two separate reply comments submitted by TTD jointly with the Air Line Pilots Association and the European Cockpit Association, and with the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and the Transport Workers Union of America, to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regarding Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) bid for an exemption and foreign air carrier permit:
“The comments filed by Norwegian Air International (NAI) last week reveal an airline company that believes there are two sets of aviation trade rules and laws: one set that applies to NAI and a second set that applies to all other air carriers wishing to compete in the trans-Atlantic marketplace. And given NAI’s desire to expand business to several U.S. cities, its comments are breathtaking in their disregard for the health of the American economy and the rights of aviation employees in America.
“The facts are stubborn in this proceeding. Article 17 bis of the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement was designed to protect high labor standards while opening aviation markets. In its comments to DOT, NAI has not even attempted to deny that its proposed business model would undermine labor standards. We suspect that it would be impossible to argue that NAI’s use of Thailand- based flight crews under Singaporean employment contracts does not undermine labor standards in the U.S. and Europe. Instead, NAI has stooped to side-stepping the issue entirely by issuing a brand new, never-before-seen interpretation of the U.S.-EU Open Skies agreement that says that Article 17 bis, and the benefits it confers, simply doesn’t apply in this situation.
“Even worse, NAI is relying on a former State Department official who originally argued in favor of the labor provisions within Article 17 bis when it was negotiated in 2010. This official now claims, in a formal joint declaration with a counterpart from the European Commission, that Article 17 bis was not intended to ‘provide a legal basis for unilaterally denying an application’ – which is news to those of us who originally supported the Article’s addition to the agreement. Conveniently, this former government official has undergone this change of heart while employed as a registered lobbyist and paid advocate for NAI. Clearly, the joint declaration should be viewed by our government as propaganda for a client.
“DOT’s decision represents a crossroads for the trans-Atlantic airline industry and for good airline jobs in the U.S. and Europe. The DOT must choose the right path and deny NAI’s bid.”
CONTACT: Elizabeth Weinberg, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-628-9262