U.S. Aviation Workers Sue Obama Administration to Reverse DOT’s Norwegian Air International Decision

Latest Action in Fight to Defend U.S. Trade Agreements, Save U.S. Aviation Jobs

WASHINGTON––Organizations representing more than 100,000 aviation workers filed a petition today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit as a first step in a drive to overturn the Obama administration’s decision to permit Norwegian Air International (NAI) to fly to and from the United States under a business plan that runs counter to U.S. Open Skies agreements and threatens U.S. jobs.

Filed today by the AFL-CIO, the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, the Association of Flight Attendants—CWA, the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, and the Allied Pilots Association, the petition calls for review of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) determination late last year that approving the NAI foreign air carrier permit was consistent with U.S. aviation statutes and the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement (ATA).

U.S. aviation workers and others have been clear that the NAI application and business model, which is designed to undermine labor standards, run counter to the ATA and that the airline should not gain the access to U.S. markets that the agreement provides. While today’s legal action is focused on the Obama administration’s failure to uphold the labor provisions of the ATA, U.S. aviation workers pledge to continue the fight against NAI and its business model until the decision is reversed or the business model is changed.

“The Administration’s decision to allow Norwegian Air International to operate in the U.S. is disappointing and undercuts key protections in place for working men and women,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “The labor movement is united and ready to fight to overturn the decision, as evidenced by today’s action.”

“U.S. aviation workers need a U.S. administration that enforces our nation’s trade agreements and safeguards fair competition for U.S. companies and their workers,” said Capt. Tim Canoll, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l. “Since the Obama administration didn’t enforce the U.S.-EU agreement, working men and women in the aviation industry have no choice but to take legal action to safeguard our jobs against unfair foreign competition.”

"The DOT NAI decision is green lighting outsourcing of aviation jobs to nations with the lowest labor standards. This is a violation of a contract with American workers and the millions of travelers, communities and businesses who depend upon a strong U.S. aviation industry," said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. "We will hold the Obama administration accountable and enforce the agreement that is predicated on maintaining good jobs in the United States and the European Union. Yes, we can have vigorous competition and good jobs!"

“The DOT’s wrongheaded decision on NAI’s permit application rewards a rogue airline for bad behavior,” said Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO. “When our government permits foreign airlines to game our trade rules and refuses to enforce worker protections it negotiates into trade agreements, not only are good jobs and a vital industry at risk, but the public interest is in harm’s way.”

“Norwegian Air International is a blatant flag-of-convenience scheme that, left unchecked, will destroy a huge number of middle-class American jobs,” said Capt. Dan Carey, president of the Allied Pilots Association. “While we are disappointed that the Obama administration has thus far not enforced the U.S.-EU agreement, we are optimistic that we will succeed in protecting the interests of the many hard-working men and women who keep our nation’s airlines flying.”


Founded in 1931, the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), is the world’s largest pilot union, representing more than 54,000 pilots at 31 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org or follow us on Twitter @WeAreALPA.

The Association of Flight Attendants is the Flight Attendant union. Focused 100 percent on Flight Attendant issues, AFA has been the leader in advancing the Flight Attendant profession for 71 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 50,000 Flight Attendants come together to form AFA, part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afacwa.org.

The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), provides a bold voice for workers in every mode of transportation and is devoted to protecting middle-class jobs, expanding collective bargaining and ensuring modern, safe and secure transportation operations and infrastructure. For more information visit us at www.ttd.org.

Founded in 1963, the Allied Pilots Association is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. APA represents the 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, including several hundred pilots on full-time military leave of absence serving in the armed forces. The union’s website is www.AlliedPilots.org. American Airlines is the world’s largest passenger airline.


AFL-CIO, Jasmine Nazarett, 202/637-5018, [email protected]
Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, Linda Shotwell, 703-481-4440, [email protected]
Association of Flight Attendants–CWA, Taylor Garland, 202-550-5520, [email protected]
Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, Jonna Huseman, 202-679-0187, [email protected]
Allied Pilots Association, Gregg Overman, 817-302-2250, [email protected]

News Desk

Latest News

See All »

Media Releases

See All »

Latest Tweets

Union Plus Benefits

union-plus.jpgUnion Plus Benefits for AFA-CWA Members!
AFA-CWA members are automatically eligible for the following Union Plus benefits and discounts.

More benefits »