Hillary Clinton has urged President Barack Obama not to grant Norwegian Air International a permit to launch flights between Cork and the United States.
Her comments follow those of fellow presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders’ on the deal. Another 32 US Congressmen have also written to President Barack Obama urging his administration to block the granting of a foreign carrier license that would allow the first US flights from Cork airport.
The deadline for comment on the deal is now closed and it seems a decision on the deal will be imminent.
A statement from Clinton’s labor campaign director Nikki Budzinski said "Hillary Clinton urges the Obama Administration against moving forward with final approval of Norwegian Air International's application.
American lawmakers try to block Norwegian Air Shuttle from expanding its transatlantic route https://t.co/bHVNPtr3TB pic.twitter.com/IVz1pjs1EQ— The Economist (@TheEconomist) May 17, 2016
“Too many questions have been raised about NAI's practices and plans."
The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) approved Norwegian Air’s application last month and has signaled that it will grant the permit.
Norwegian Air International (NAI), based in Dublin, is a subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle. Their plan is to use Ireland as its base, to avail of European Union’s open skies rights that will give it unfettered access to the United States market.
US aviation unions are opposed to NAI's plans. They claim the airline will use cheap crew and undermine labor standards and that this will result in jobs losses on both sides of the Atlantic.
Critics of the deal suggest that the company is attempting to circumvent the strict employment laws in Norway. NAI denies this.
Clinton’s statement continued “Workers in the US airline industry deserve rules of the road that support a strong workforce with high labor standards - not attempts by airlines to flout labor standards and outsource good-paying jobs.
"Hillary Clinton urges the Obama administration against moving forward with final approval of Norwegian Air International's application."
In Ireland the NAI’s plans have been backed by the Government and state bodies including Fáilte Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, the Industrial Development Authority, the Dublin Airport Authority. and Shannon Airport. Among those in opposition are the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association.
Read more: Plea for Irish Americans to support Boston-Cork air route
In opposition to the deal Sanders released a statement on his website which reads:
“Norwegian Air International’s attempt to undermine international labor laws by outsourcing cheap labor from Thailand and other low-wage countries is unacceptable.”
It continues: “We must do everything we can to prevent a global race to the bottom in the airline industry.”
NAI plays to fly between Cork and Boston this summer. This scheduled will, most likely, now be pushed back. There are also plans for a service between Cork and New York in 2017.
Irish pilots have criticised Norwegian Air for making Cork-Boston flight an election issue https://t.co/5sskfr7uZi pic.twitter.com/DiEWxV3Hyr— TheJournal.ie (@thejournal_ie) May 20, 2016
On Monday the NAI issued a statement saying the remain confident that the US DOT will approve their permit. The DOT has said they see no reason why the NAI’s permit application should not be granted.
A spokesperson said “Approval of NAI will result in more US aviation sector jobs, enable Norwegian to expand its already large pool of American crew, and deliver much needed competition and affordable fares to consumers on both sides of the Atlantic.”