The transatlantic market is seeing its first low-cost carrier emerge as Norwegian Air International attempts to avail of market opening opportunities offered by the 2007 EU-US Open Sky agreement. However, the US pilots and some US airlines are trying to thwart Norwegian, demanding that the US government deny its application for a foreign air carrier permit. They claim that Norwegian is developing a new business model that is tantamount to social dumping. The opponents allege that Norwegian is seeking to circumvent Norway's stricter employment laws by incorporating its new low-cost affiliate in Ireland, using a Singapore-based company to recruit the pilots under Singapore law, and domiciling the employees in Thailand. The issue is being discussed on 8 January in Washington by EU and US officials as part of the twice-yearly Implementation Committee meeting for the Open Sky accord. Norway, along with Iceland, acceded to that accord in 2011.

Norwegian, in 2013, began operating transatlantic flights, including New York-Oslo and New York-Stockholm. Moreover, in 2012, it placed one of the biggest aircraft orders in history: 122 Boeing and 100 Airbus planes. Already the third largest low-cost carrier in Europe, Norwegian now has its sights set on the lucrative EU-US market. However, it needs to clear two regulatory hurdles first. While it established its low-cost affiliate in Ireland in March 2013 and based itself at Dublin Airport, it is still awaiting an air operator certificate from the Irish Aviation Authority. And it needs the US Department of...

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