Nor­we­gian Air halts talks to buy Dream­lin­ers

Daily Trust - - AVIATION -

Budget air­line Nor­we­gian Air has sus­pended talks on buy­ing 20 Dream­liner planes from Boe­ing be­cause of a de­lay in re­ceiv­ing U.S. back­ing for its long-haul plans, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Bjoern Kjos said in a let­ter.

The air­line may also re­con­sider plans to lo­cate its long-haul op­er­a­tions in Ire­land, giv­ing up the ad­van­tage of hav­ing a Euro­pean Union-based car­rier, Kjos told Ir­ish trans­port min­is­ter Leo Varad­kar in a let­ter dated April 23.

Nor­we­gian launched flights to the U.S. and Bangkok from its Nordic bases last year and ob­tained an Ir­ish air oper­a­tors’ cer­tifi­cate, hop­ing to base the busi­ness in the EU, where it can op­er­ate un­der more fa­vor­able con­di­tions and take ad­van­tage of the Open Skies trade be­tween the U.S. and the EU.

Nor­we­gian is op­er­at­ing its flights to the U.S. un­der a tem­po­rary per­mit is­sued by the govern­ment in Oslo.

Its ap­pli­ca­tion to the U.S. Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion for a per­ma­nent li­cense, made via Nor­we­gian’s Ir­ish af­fil­i­ate, has been fiercely con­tested by its ri­vals and by unions. They ar­gue that Nor­we­gian is sim­ply try­ing to es­cape high Nordic la­bor costs and wants to em­ploy cheap Thai crew, gain­ing an un­fair ad­van­tage.

“Un­for­tu­nately, the de­lay in the DOT process has given us no other choice than to put our on­go­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with Boe­ing to pur­chase 20 new 787-9 Dream­liner air­craft - due to be reg­is­tered in Ire­land - on hold un­til Nor­we­gian Air In­ter­na­tional’s fu­ture in the U.S. has been de­cided,” Kjos said in the let­ter seen by Reuters on Mon­day.

“An additional de­lay - or in the worst case, a neg­a­tive de­ci­sion by the U.S. DOT - may re­gret­tably force us to re­verse our com­mit­ment to build an in­ter­na­tional long-haul air­line in Ire­land.”

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