Norwegian budget airline 'about to obtain' Irish license to help it hire foreign staff

Thursday 06 February 2014 18.54
Norwegian says an Irish licence would broaden its rights in the European Union
Norwegian says an Irish licence would broaden its rights in the European Union

Budget airline Norwegian Air Shuttle has said it was about to obtain an Irish license for its long-haul routes easing the hiring of foreign staff, to the dismay of unions.

"Irish authorities have informed us that we fulfill all the requirements," Norwegian spokesman Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen told AFP.

"They said they would issue an AOC (Air Operator's Certificate) as soon as we're ready."

Norwegian is one of the few low-cost airlines that have ventured into the long-haul segment, where it is harder to cut costs through a high rotation of aircraft.

Since last summer, the company operates routes from Europe to the US and Bangkok.

Norwegian has requested an Irish license which would, according to the company, broaden its rights in the European Union, Norway not being a member of the bloc.

The Irish certificate would also allow the airline to bypass Norwegian legislation, which restricts foreign staff.

According to Sandaker-Nielsen, Norwegian currently employs 200 Asian cabin crew, with lower salaries than their expensive Norwegian and prospective US colleagues.

With the company being about to hire 300 workers for its bases in New York and Fort Lauderdale, the Irish initiative has met the opposition of pilot and air transport unions in the US.

Several union members were in Oslo this week as part of their lobbying efforts with European and US authorities against what they deem "unfair competition" by Norwegian, which they accuse of social dumping.