Norwegian Air International (NAI), the long-haul division of Norwegian Air Shuttle, has gained an air operator’s certificate (AOC) from Irish regulatory authorities.
The move to apply for an Irish AOC—a country not served by NAI—has been criticized by trade unions, which have accused the Norwegian carrier of shopping around for “flag of convenience” status to avoid employing staff under Norway’s stringent social legislation. Norwegian denies this.
NAI will base its managerial and mandatory regulatory functions in Dublin, with its growing long-haul fleet of Boeing 787s governed by Irish law.
In a statement, Norwegian said it had established its long-haul operation in Ireland for several reasons.
“The main reason is access to future traffic rights to and from the European Union [EU]. Norwegian has more than 260 aircraft on order and the route network will expand rapidly in the years to come.” Norway is not an EU member-state.
“Another important reason for choosing Ireland, and not another country within the EU (though several other European countries—including the UK and Sweden—were considered), is because Ireland has decided to fully adapt the Cape Town Convention, which provides Norwegian with better financing conditions.
“Furthermore, NAI’s establishment in Ireland does not affect export guarantees in connection with our financing.”
The carrier reiterated its argument that it had not chosen Ireland because the country had specific rules and regulations that allowed the use of American or Asian crew, as some politicians and unions had claimed.
“The fact is that Norwegian could have based its long-haul company in any other European country and still used American and Asian crew, the way several other European airlines have been operating for years. The only exception is Norway and partly Denmark, who so far have opted to keep outdated special rules within this area.”