Sean Spicer suggests Norwegian Air International's controversial licence is safe...
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has indicated that Donald Trump will not revoke a licence issued to Norwegian Air International (NAI), allowing it to provide low-cost transatlantic flights from Cork and Shannon.
The US has a "huge economic interest" in the deal, Spicer said on Thursday, as it is important for US jobs – though he said he did not want to "get ahead of the president".
Some 108 members of Congress wrote to Trump last month, asking him to overturn the US Department of Transportation's decision to grant the licence in early December. The US Airline Pilots' Association has also been critical of the deal, fearing that American jobs would be lost as a result.
Spicer said it was his understanding that 50% of crews would be American-based, with Boeing planes set to be used on the transatlantic routes.
A Norwegian Air spokesman has said that the company is doing exactly what the US administration wants, and that it will announce plans for new routes between Ireland and the US in the coming weeks.
Trump is set to meet with airline executives at the White House tomorrow, with economic growth, job creation and security on the agenda.
Captain Greg Everhard, a spokesman for the US Airline Pilots' Association (ALPA), spoke to Fox News last week and expressed his hope that Trump "steps up" to cancel the permit granted to NAI in December.
The United Airlines captain said:
"This is a simple decision to enforce our trade agreements. By revoking the permit that allows NAI to operate, we think President Trump can make a very strong statement that he's going to put American jobs first and help save aviation workers."
He also argued that the EU was "violating" the Open Skies agreement and repeated claims that the Dublin-based subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle was established to circumvent tough labour laws in Norway and that it could threaten jobs in the US, which Norwegian has emphatically rejected.
Everhard told Fox anchor Greg Jarrett:
"They're based in Norway, but they've started a company in Ireland and they're hiring crews using Asian employment contracts. This gives them an unfair advantage over US companies."