Norwegian Air Shuttle said Tuesday that the US Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced it needs more time to reach a decision on Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) application for a foreign carrier permit to serve the US from Europe. 

Norwegian Air Shuttle has been waiting for more than six months for a DOT decision on its application and a ruling was anticipated for this week.

But the company said today that DOT was dismissing NAI’s exemption application “on procedural grounds”.

“[The exemption dismissal] simply gives DOT additional time to consider NAI’s permit application.  It is not a denial. Norwegian Air Shuttle already holds a permit to fly between Europe and the US, and Norwegian Air Shuttle’s existing operations to the US are not affected by today’s announcement,” Norwegian said in a statement. 

“While we think it is unfortunate that DOT feels the need to further delay issuance of our permit, which has been pending now for over six months, Norwegian Air International stands behind its business—from its pilots and cabin crew to its affordable fare model to its desire to bring competition to the transatlantic market—and looks forward to receiving approval to operate without further delay,” NAI CEO Asgeir Nyseth added. 

NAI’s application has met with opposition from labor groups, which object to the carrier being registered in Ireland and outsourcing crew training and jobs to the Asia to lower costs. They are concerned about setting a precedent for a “flags of convenience” business model similar to that used in the maritime industry. Some airlines are also opposed to NAI’s proposal.

But three former US Secretaries of Transportation, Norman Mineta, Mary Peters and Andy Card, are in favor of the application, NAI said. Proponents say the application is valid under the terms of the EU-US Open Skies agreement.

ATW Editor’s Blog: Norwegian Air dismissal would undermine EU-US Open Skies