Four of this country’s biggest airlines—American, Delta, United, and US Airways—are digging in their heels about the entry of the low-coast carrier called Norwegian that’s begun offering deeply discounted fares between the US and Europe.
This is going to get messy.
You might think an airline called Norwegian flies out of Norway, and it does. But it wants to hire lower-cost pilots out of Asia so it established a subsidiary in Ireland that is part of the European Union, which Norway is not. The EU has an Open Skies agreement with the US that allows airlines to fly between treaty countries at will
US airlines, along with the US-based pilots’ union, are opposing Norwegian’s application in Ireland to obtain a permanent EU license. Meanwhile, the airline is already flying between Europe and New York and Ft. Lauderdale. Service to LA, San Francisco/Oakland, and Miami is to follow soon with fares at less than $600 round trip. That includes all taxes and fees.
And with US carriers charging hundreds of dollars more, well, you get the picture. Are Asian pilots less qualified than European or US pilots? No. But this is a radical move, and it will be interesting to see who wins this one.