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US congressman writes to the EU over Cork to Boston flight row

The EU announced last week that it would be putting the dispute forward for arbitration.

A US CONGRESSMAN has written to the European Commission to lodge his objections to proposed transatlantic flights from Cork and Shannon Airports to Boston by airline carrier Norwegian Air.

Democratic congressman Peter DeFazio wrote to the EU Commissioner for Transport to express his concerns about Irish-registered Norwegian Air International.

The airline announced in September that it would be launching flights from Cork to Boston. However, since then the US has refused to sign off on the proposed route.

The row has been ongoing, with local Cork politicians, the Irish Airline Pilots Association (IALPA), and even former Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders all getting involved.

download (2) Source: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The EU announced last week that it would be moving the issue forward for arbitration – a formal process for resolving trade issues between the EU and the US.

This move prompted Congressman DeFazio to write to the EU Commissioner to outline his concerns.

DeFazio said that Norwegian Air plans to use Ireland as a “flag of convenience” to circumvent US aviation laws and “firmly plant the weed of this unsustainable business model in the fertile soil of our international aviation system”.

DeFazio said that the airline bases many crewmembers in Bangkok, who are hired on contracts governed by Singapore law.

Oregon School Shooting File photo of Congressman Peter DeFazio. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Norwegian Air disputes these claims. In a statement carried on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, the airline said it did not have a single Asian-based crewmember or pilot.

It also said that any crew would be employed under the labour laws of the country in which they are based.

The Irish Aviation Authority also disputed claims made in DeFazio’s letter, saying that the airline’s pilots and crew would be subject to the highest labour standards.

It also said that the letter was full of “well-worn and false arguments and is an attempt to confuse the matter”.

IALPA said that the transatlantic flights were bad for competition and that they opposed them, citing concerns that staff would be used from a third-party company based in Singapore.

The flights were originally meant to begin in April of this year. However now that the matter has been put forward for arbitration, it could be 2017 before a resolution is reached.

Read: Those new flights from Cork to Boston may be grounded before takeoff

Read: Bernie Sanders is not happy about a planned Cork to Boston flight route

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