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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Crash-landing for airline inspectors’ free flights

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) revealed over the weekend that former employees of Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) who went on to become inspectors for the Civil Aviation Administration (Luftfartstilsynet) kept their free-flight privileges. Not anymore.

Transport Minister Magnhild Meltveit Kleppa from the Center Party quickly grounded the inspectors’ practice of accepting free flights not only for themselves but for their families as well. She claims she didn’t know about the practice before NRK broadcast it on the nightly national news.

“I know that Luftfartstilsynet had warned the ministry that NRK was asking questions about these agreements,” Kleppa told NRK. “It’s come forth that these agreements have existed for years. That doesn’t mean they’re acceptble.”

As many as seven inspectors for the state agency that’s supposed to regulate SAS and other airlines secured free flights as part of the pension deals they took with them when leaving SAS. The head of the agency, Heine Richardsen, had told NRK the agreements had been in force for a long time and there was no secrecy around them. He decided to ask the Justice Ministry to determine whether they presented any conflicts of interest. He also asked the inspectors involved to refrain from flying for free until the matter was cleared up.

Newspaper Dagsavisen reported that the director of Luftfartstilsynet also has had free flight privileges at SAS. Kleppa was clearly unhappy about the free flights.

“I believe neither Luftfartstilsynet nor any other regulatory agency should have any connections that raise questions of impartiality or conflicts of interest,” Kleppa said, adding that the agreements will be ended.

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