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Norwegian shuffles the deck on U.S. service


Norwegian (we'll call it that before we list its operating parts) has made two moves in the U.S. market this week, both parts of its strategy of opening up long-term discount service between the U.S. and Europe.


It's opening service between three Northeast U.S. cities (Boston, New York and Baltimore) and "Europe," specifically the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. And it's made a staffing concession in its bid to win U.S. approval for its Norwegian Air International subsidiary to fly to U.S. cities from more places.


Norwegian already already operates 31 routes between the U.S. and Scandinavian cities. Its application for a certificate is for its Norwegian Air International subsidiary, based in EU-member Ireland. As an EU carrier, it can operate to the U.S. from Norway and from E.U. countries. The certificate applied for, as a foreign air carrier, could also permit it fly from the U.S. to other destinations, including North and South America or Asia.


The certificate request has been in limbo for well over a year because of opposition to Norwegian's use of contract pilots hired from Asia at low wages. Some, Norwegian included, say the opposition is really based on fear of low-cost competition.


Now, Norwegian has offered an agreement that it will hire only U.S. and European pilots for those routes if the certificate is approved. It's not by any means clear that the move will end the opposition.


Photo: Bo Mathisen / Norwegian Air/Creative Commons

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