More challenges at Norwegian Air

Bookmark and Share

The already-troubled long-haul intercontinental flights launched by Norwegian Air earlier this year now face being grounded, unless Norwegian obtains, during the next three weeks, the Irish airline license it needs to operate them. Norwegian’s initial application for the license was returned by Irish authorities, reportedly because of deficiencies in the airline’s paperwork.

Norwegian's pilots have won a pensions dispute with their employer. PHOTO: Norwegian Air/Hans Olav Nyborg

Norwegian Air continues to face many challenges over its new long-haul service, now in connection with the Irish license needed to operate them after December 23. PHOTO: Norwegian Air/Hans Olav Nyborg

Norwegian Air has a Norwegian license, called an Air Operator Certificate (AOC), for its domestic and international service within Europe. It applied for an Irish AOC  for its new long-haul service,  however,  in order order to avoid Norwegian personnel regulations that would have dramatically increased its costs. Norwegian Air also registered its new but troubled Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets meant to be used on the long-haul routes to Bangkok and the US in Ireland, and since has been operating them and other leased long-haul aircraft with cheaper Asian crews.

Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported on Thursday that Norwegian authorities gave the airline dispensation to operate its new long-haul flights under its Norwegian certificate until December 23. After that, Norwegian Air must have its new Irish AOC to keep the flights in the air.

Application returned twice
DN reported that the Irish Aviation Authority, however, has returned Norwegian’s application for an Irish AOC twice, on the grounds the airline had supplied insufficient information. Norwegian aviation authorities at Luftfartstilsynet in Bodø confirmed the initial rejections that now have delayed issuance of the license Norwegian needs.

DN reported that the Irish authorities wouldn’t accept that Norwegian Air planned to use its same Norwegian key personnel with aviation experience for its Irish operations. The Irish authorities also made new demands for documentation in flight manuals that haven’t been implemented in Norway.

Anne-Sissel Skånvik, communications director at Norwegian, confirmed that the airline’s application for the crucial Irish AOC was still under review. She claimed it was “not unnatural” for the authorities to request more information, and that operations director Asgeir Nyseth would now be moved to a new office in Dublin to serve as “accountable manager” in the airline’s newly established Norwegian Long Haul AS.

Current license extension opposed
Norwegian authorities, reported DN, have indicated that they won’t extend the temporary permission the airline has had to operate its long-haul flights pending receipt of the Irish AOC. Rival Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), which didn’t initially object to Norwegian’s Irish registration and license plans, now says it will oppose any extension as well, claiming Norwegian Air already has enjoyed a competitive advantage for six months.

It’s critical, therefore, that the Irish AOC is in hand by December 23, although Skånvik said Norwegian Air would apply for an extension if the Irish AOC doesn’t materialize by then.

Norwegian has also been opening new bases outside Norway for its European routes, mostly in Spain, as part of additional efforts to cut costs. Another was expected to open in Barcelona this week.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund