Battle begin waged over 'Open Skies'

20 August 2014

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) said they have called on the Department of Transportation to reject an application for a foreign air carrier permit submitted by Norwegian Air International.

In comments filed with DOT, the unions, representing over 80,000 Flight Attendants, urged the DOT to uphold the strong labour protections outlined in the US-E.U. Air Transport Agreement known as Open Skies.

Norwegian Air International said it has filed comments with the DOT confirming its support for the European Commission´s views that parties to the US-EU Open Skies Agreement cannot unilaterally deny NAI´s application to serve the US. The group said its views were further confirmed in a joint declaration of John Byerly and Daniel Calleja, who chaired the delegations of the United States and European Union in the negotiation of the historic Open Skies Agreement, including the 2010 Protocol.

After meeting all US statutory and regulatory requirements to serve the United States, NAI´s application for authority to fly to the US has been pending with DOT for almost six months.

The AFA, IAM and TWU, in a prepared statement, said, “Given the ever-increasing sophistication of new threats we are mindful of any attempts, intentionally or unintentionally, to undermine much needed security measures to protect air crews, the flying public, communities, the industry and, of course, US and European international, national and regional security. In this vein, we have sincere concerns that Thailand-based cabin crews hired through a hiring agency guarantee the same level of background checks that exist for European and U.S-based aircrews. The seriousness of this concern on the overall high level of security of operations between the USA and Europe cannot be overstated.”

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and the Transport Workers Union coordinate on issues of mutual interest to Flight Attendants. AFA represents 60,000 flight attendants at 19 airlines. The IAM is a labour union representing workers at 18 airlines and 720,000 members across an array of industries. The TWU represents over 200,000 workers and retirees, including employees at 24 airlines.

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