DOT NAI Decision Breaks Agreement with U.S. Aviation Workers

Washington, D.C. (April 15, 2016) — The U.S. Department of Transportation today tentatively approved a foreign air carrier permit for Norwegian Air International's (NAI) Irish-flag subsidiary. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) strongly opposes this application as it sets a dangerous precedent for transatlantic aviation and risks thousands of U.S. aviation jobs. AFA promises to vigorously oppose this move during the comment period. 

“The Obama Administration is on the brink of awarding a ‘flag of convenience model’ in aviation, designed specifically to avoid labor laws,” said Sara Nelson, international president of AFA. “With this decision, the administration has chosen foreign corporations over workers’ rights and good American jobs. The failure of the administration to enforce the U.S.-EU Open Skies agreement calls into question enforcement of all trade agreements. If the administration will not enforce basic labor protections under current trade agreements, we cannot and will not support future trade agreements that promise ‘labor protections.’ 

This “flags of convenience” model is in violation of the U.S.-EU Open Skies agreement. NAI is a Norwegian-owned company that holds an air carrier certification from Ireland, but does not fly to or from Ireland. NAI’s proposed plan to fly to the U.S. under an Irish certificate has included Pilots hired in Singapore and Flight Attendants in the United States working under a constantly renewed contract that keeps base pay below $18,000 each year. 

“We will keep up our fight to stop the NAI foreign air carrier permit and work to ensure that our jobs and the Flight Attendant profession are not further undercut by this decision,” Nelson concluded.


The Association of Flight Attendants is the world’s largest Flight Attendant union. Focused 100 percent on Flight Attendant issues, AFA has been the leader in advancing the Flight Attendant profession for 70 years. Serving as the voice for Flight Attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill, AFA has transformed the Flight Attendant profession by raising wages, benefits and working conditions. Nearly 60,000 Flight Attendants come together to form AFA, part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at

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