This week, a bipartisan group of Congressmembers, led by Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), introduced legislation supported by AFA-CWA to prohibit the Department of Transportation (DOT) from issuing permits to "flag of convenience" airlines – an airline that is established in a country other than its home country to avoid the regulations of its home country, including labor standards.
The bill also requires DOT to ensure that any new foreign air carrier permit issued to a European airline is consistent with the fair labor standards and fair competition requirements of the U.S.-E.U.-Norway-Iceland Air Transport Agreement.
Last Congress, DeFazio introduced a similar bill after DOT, in December 2016, issued a foreign air carrier permit to Norwegian Air International (NAI). NAI is "Norwegian" in name only, having established itself in Ireland to avoid Norway's strong labor protections and employing crews on cheap short-term contracts governed under Singapore law. DOT's controversial decision to grant NAI a permit will encourage future opportunistic airlines to continue this race to the bottom in international civil aviation, threatening U.S. carriers' ability to compete in critical international markets.
"U.S. aviation makes it possible to connect us to the rest of the world, and each of our communities at home from big cities to small town America," said AFA-CWA International President Sara Nelson. "Our economy, our military, and 12 million U.S. jobs depend on U.S. aviation. It only makes sense then that we codify opening access to foreign airlines only if everyone plays by the rules that makes Open Skies fair."