New low-cost airline flying to America under threat after US pilots association raises safety fears


travel correspondent

“Dangerous” – that is how the US Air Line Pilots’ Association describes a European airline’s plans for new low-cost flights this summer from Britain to New York, Florida and California.

The airline, Norwegian, plans to start flying to the US from Gatwick, where the pioneering Laker Airways was based. Flights are due to start in July to New York JFK, Fort Lauderdale in Florida and Los Angeles.

Norwegian says it aims “to bring innovative service, competitive fares and an industry-leading product to the US market”. London-New York tickets in August are available for under £500 return, about 20 per cent less than the American Airlines fare on the same dates.

US pilots are asking Washington to block the proposed flights, describing the airline as a “sketchy foreign competitor”. The transatlantic flights will be operated by a subsidiary, Norwegian Air International (NAI). ALPA has launched an online petition that demands: “Tell the Obama administration to defend US airlines and airline jobs by denying NAI’s dangerous application to fly into the United States.”

ALPA’s argument is centred on the unusual operational structure that Norwegian plans for the flights, which some aviation figures have likened to a maritime “flag of convenience”.

Norwegian is based in Oslo, but the transatlantic offshoot, NAI, was registered last April in Dublin. While the airline’s Boeing 787 jets will fly over Ireland, there are no plans actually to land there. Flight crew for the UK-US operation are hired under Singaporean employment law and officially based in Bangkok.

ALPA’s president, Captain Lee Moak, said: “Norwegian Air International was clearly designed to attempt to dodge laws and regulations, starting a race to the bottom.” But the union’s attitude has led to accusations of protectionism.

Douglas McNeill, investment director for Charles Stanley Securities, said: “Safety is a red herring here. Norwegian has an excellent safety record and no commercial incentive at all to take any risks with it. ALPA’s real beef is a possible weakening of its ability to influence pilot pay rates.”

UK pilots have adopted a more measured approach than their American counterparts. Richard Toomer of the British Airline Pilots’ Association said: “We’re pleased to see another airline coming to the UK’s shores employing more pilots and providing new routes and options for passengers. But the exotic model they have adopted for the employment of their pilots does raise a lot of questions.”

The airline rejected the criticism, with a statement that read: “Norwegian offers competitive wages and conditions in all markets we operate. It’s incorrect and misleading to state that the location of our bases is based on the ability to offer low wages and poor social conditions.

“Safety is has always been, is, and will always be our main priority.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London