Many influential leaders in the travel industry, including CEOs of several top hotels and travel groups, have sent a letter to President Obama urging him to approve a license for low-cost flights from Ireland to the U.S.
The Irish Examiner reports that the travel leaders have described the administration's delay in processing Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) foreign carrier permit application as “inexcusable.”
NAI wants to launch low-cost flights from Cork to Boston and New York under the terms of the EU/US Open Skies Agreement and applied for a permit on February 14, 2014. The US Department of Transportation signaled its intention to grant a foreign carrier permit to NAI, an Irish-based subsidiary of low-fares giant Norwegian, in April but still hasn’t signed off.
Some U.S and European labor and airline unions have opposed the application, questioning the airline’s labor practices. Earlier this year, 32 U.S. congressman wrote to the president urging him to block the granting of the license, arguing that NAI plans to operate against the terms laid out by the US-EU Open Skies Agreement and employ foreign workers. NAI have consistently denied these claims.
Now, 12 American travel and hotel industry executives have written to the president urging immediate action.
The travel leaders, including US Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow, Hilton president and CEO Christopher Nassetta, Marriott president and CEO Arne Sorenson, Loews Hotels president and CEO Kirk Kinsell, and MGM Resorts chairman and CEO James Murren, said the delay is “postponing potential economic benefits” to the US: “As leaders in the US travel industry that employs millions of Americans, we cannot over-emphasise the value of the connectivity created through our more than 100 Open Skies agreement, both to the travel sector and to the broader economy.”
In July, the European Commission told the U.S. Department of Transportation that it plans to launch formal arbitration in an effort to force a decision on the license.
In their letter to the president, the executives said the U.S government should convene relevant stakeholders to make the decision and avoid arbitration.