COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 13, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With middle-class American jobs on the line and the integrity of their proud profession at risk, the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP) joined hundreds of their peers from across the aviation industry in an informational picket to urge the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Obama Administration to deny Norwegian Air International's (NAI) application for a foreign air carrier permit. The picket was staged in front of the White House Thursday at noon.
In an affront to fair competition and existing trade agreements, the U.S. DOT, in mid April, gave preliminary approval to NAI's application to conduct long-haul international flights to and from the United States. To set the stage for the permit, Norwegian incorporated a spinoff subsidiary, NAI, in Ireland to circumvent regulatory, tax and labor laws, which is commonly referred to as a flag of convenience scheme. "Not only has the DOT's preliminary decision created a playing field that is grossly skewed in favor of foreign competition," NJASAP Industry Affairs Coordinator Capt. Coley George said, "but also laid the groundwork for the same scheme that ravaged the maritime industry to devastate aviation."
NJASAP Vice President Capt. Paulette Gilbert spoke to that very point during her remarks to the picketers yesterday: "The Obama Administration has lamented the continued erosion of good-paying middle class jobs and concentration of wealth to the elite few," she said. "Regrettably, the DOT's decision to approve NAI will only exacerbate that very problem."
George continued, "What makes NAI's move especially egregious is during a teleconference held prior to the informational picket, Norwegian representatives did not deny its scheme violates Section 17 bis of the U.S.-European Union Open Skies Agreement – a section specifically intended to keep corporations from forum shopping for cheaper labor," George said. "Their argument is the violation, in and of itself, is not sufficient grounds for the DOT to deny its application."
The seeming contempt for international law and the elimination of U.S.-based carriers' ability to compete on equal footing in the international marketplace aside, the NAI scheme is viewed as having very serious safety implications for the National Airspace System. "NAI has made clear its intent to use flight crews employed via Asian contracts, and that begs very relevant questions specific to safety oversight," George said. "Many professional pilots begin their careers working as contract pilots, and there is little question that the pressure to perform in this environment is unrelenting." He added, "At this time, we are aware of no mechanism that ensures NAI's contracted pilots will have the direct link to management that allows them to express and resolve safety concerns, which is tremendously problematic."
In the weeks ahead, NJASAP will continue to partner with its fellow aviation labor groups and peers to support the #DenyNAI effort. "The stakes are incredibly high for aviation professionals, the flying public and the future of the industry," Gilbert said. "NJASAP remains hopeful the DOT will heed our calls – as well as those of Congress – and deny NAI a foothold in U.S. aviation."
Founded in 2008 as an independent labor advocate, NJASAP represents the professional interests of the 2,700-plus pilots who fly in the service of NetJets Aviation, Inc. For more information, visit our web site, www.njasap.com, Facebook page, www.facebook.com/njasap, or Twitter feed, @njasap.
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SOURCE NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP)