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.”

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine