Like Whack-a mole: you clobber one rival, and another pops up.
Norwegian Air\s bid to fly new American routes is under fire from US unions
In the space of a week, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) halted expansion plans by Norwegian Air at the same time that WOW air, Iceland's low-cost carrier, celebrated new flights to the US!
Labor unions heralded DOT's rebuke against Norwegian Air, but have been silent on Wow Air - seemingly caught off guard by the plucky airline.
Pushing the envelope
Norwegian Air continues to push for more long-haul routes despite fierce opposition from an alliance of the biggest US carriers, airline labor unions and politicians - including Hillary Clinton.
Norwegian applied for its latest US permit over two years ago, seeking approval for new routes between the US and Asia, Africa and South America. Currently the airline is permitted to fly between the US and Europe. The DOT's decision won't affect those routes, which it flies with a license granted by Norwegian regulators.
However, the DOT dealt a blow to its expansion plans when it turned down the airline's request for temporary permit to operate the new flights.
It had been expected the permit would be granted, following an earlier approval in April allowing the airline to fly between Cork and Boston.
US regulators said they needed more time to review Norwegian's 'complex' application, which had received support from British aviation authorities and London's Gatwick airport, saying Norwegian employs 800 workers in that country. U.S. airports such as Orlando and Oakland, which are scheduled to receive new Norwegian routes this year, also supported the application.
Cracks In The Armor
Americans have benefited somewhat from US's low-cost airlines within their own country, but so much not across the Atlantic.
Critics have said Norwegian is trying to circumvent some labor and tax rules with the overseas bases to lower its costs - charges that Norwegian rejects.
These arguments going back and forth about which airline gets what subsidy are just the latest chapter in a dismal tale. For all the talk of "open skies", the aviation industry is and always has been riddled with protectionism and patronage, bail-outs and handouts.
Once it was the American railways complaining about unfair competition from the young airline industry. Now it is the airlines moaning about unfair competition from foreign carriers. All the while the interests of the consumers and taxpayers gets forgotten.
Ryanair will start feeding passengers to Norwegian Air Shuttle from airports including Dublin, Cork and Belfast according to chief executive Michael O'Leary.
Why Big US Carriers Should Be Terrified
We haven't mentioned Ryanair, the most successful airline in recent years.
Speculation is that it has agreed to do a partnership to feed with Norwegian, an airline that is doing trans-Atlantic from airports in Ryanair's own home country of Ireland, and which has integrated its booking systems with Ryanair.
This is why big US carriers should be terrified, Ryanair is getting into long-haul by proxy.
FlyersRights' Comments To The DOT
Answer of FlyersRights.org re. the application of Norwegian Air International for an Exemption and Foreign Air Carrier Permit - click to enlarge.
NAI will inject competition into new markets, driving fares lower for consumers and increasing service to underserved communities.
Approval of NAI's application would produce innovative, pro-competitive, proconsumer, and pro-growth public interest benefits in the highly concentrated transatlantic market. Notwithstanding a vocal minority of opponents, Flyer's Rights, on behalf of all airline passengers, and key aviation stakeholders including consumers, airports, mid-size communities, tourism destinations, travel distributors, travel agents, cargo airlines and their customers, other commercial airlines, plane manufacturers and their suppliers, managed-travel operations, and American job seekers - fully supports NAI.
Get Quoted In The New York Times!
The New York Times is writing an article on the tiny lavatories that have been configured to squeeze in more seats of the new 737-900 aircraft. Flight attendants have expressed concern about safety issues issues related to the lack of space.
The paper wants to hear from 'passengers-of-size' regarding how difficult it is to use these lavatories. Are you a traveler who has had difficulty with these smaller restrooms, who would be willing to be interviewed?
Questions are about the problems of getting into the restroom and opinion of the new design. Are larger passengers forced to use the toilet at the airport before getting onto their flight? What airline did you fly, and did you complain to anyone about the new design?
The interview would take about 15 minutes over the phone.
We are commited to solutions for promoting airline passenger policies that forward first and foremost the safety of all passengers while not imposing unrealistic economic burdens that adversely affect airline profitability or create exhorbitant ticket price increases.
All American air carriers shall abide by the following standards to ensure the safety, security and comfort of their passengers:
Establish procedures to respond to all passenger complaints within 24 hours and with appropriate resolution within 2 weeks.
Notify passengers within ten minutes of a delay of known diversions, delays and cancellations via airport overhead announcement, on aircraft announcement, and posting on airport television monitors.
Establish procedures for returning passengers to terminal gate when delays occur so that no plane sits on the tarmac for longer than three hours without connecting to a gate.
Provide for the essential needs of passengers during air- or ground-based delays of longer than 3 hours, including food, water, sanitary facilities, and access to medical attention.
Provide for the needs of disabled, elderly and special needs passengers by establishing procedures for assisting with the moving and retrieving of baggage, and the moving of passengers from one area of airport to another at all times by airline personnel.
Publish and update monthly on the company’s public web site a list of chronically delayed flights, meaning those flight delayed thirty minutes or more, at least forty percent of the time, during a single month.
Compensate “bumped” passengers or passengers delayed due to flight cancellations or postponements of over 12 hours by refund of 150% of ticket price.
The formal implementation of a Passenger Review Committee, made up of non-airline executives and employees but rather passengers and consumers – that would have the formal ability to review and investigate complaints.
Make lowest fare information, schedules and itineraries, cancellation policies and frequent flyer program requirements available in an easily accessed location and updated in real-time.
Ensure that baggage is handled without delay or injury; if baggage is lost or misplaced, the airline shall notify customer of baggage status within 12 hours and provide compensation equal to current market value of baggage and its contents.
Require that these rights apply equally to all airline code-share partners including international partners.