The US House of Representatives today passed the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, which includes pivotal new language that delivers Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) application – and its job-creating, pro-consumer, low-cost service – closer to approval by the US Department of Transportation (DOT). NAI’s application has been pending for nearly one year.
The new language reaffirms the Secretary of Transportation’s authority to approve NAI’s application. This action by Congress reinforces the arguments made by American consumer groups, local communities, the travel and tourism industries, three former Secretaries of DOT, and hundreds of Norwegian’s US employees: DOT must follow the law and approve Norwegian Air International’s application to serve the United States.
In June, the House of Representatives, in a late night voice vote, slipped in an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act that was intended to apply political pressure on DOT to deny NAI’s application. A denial of NAI’s application would violate the landmark 2007 US—EU Open Skies Agreement, which was intended to benefit consumers through increased competition in the trans-Atlantic aviation market.
In a stark reversal, Congress has rewritten the initial House provision to make crystal clear that nothing prohibits DOT from following the law, and approving applications that are consistent with U.S. international agreements and statutes. NAI’s application is fully consistent with U.S. law and the US—EU Open Skies Agreement, and the European Union has called for its swift approval. The new language is included in subsection (b) of Section 415, Division K, of the omnibus appropriations bill.
Norwegian remains confident DOT will take the proper course of action to rely on the law and international aviation agreements in deciding this matter. NAI looks forward to bringing Americans affordable, world-class service on US made Boeing Dreamliners.