Norwegian Air won’t need to ground its intercontinental service after all, following a decision by state aviation authorities on Friday to extend the airline’s special permission to operate its new long-haul, Irish-registered aircraft under its Norwegian license. Rival airline SAS objects, though, claiming the state is unfairly allowing Norwegian to avoid Norway’s laws.
State aviation authorities at Norway’s Luftfartstilsynet had earlier said they would not extend the dispensation granted to Norwegian Air for six months earlier this year. They now say they’re making an exception, since several factors have held up the Irish authorities’ issuance of an Irish Air Operator Certificate (AOC) that Norwegian needed for its new Irish-registered aircraft by December 23.
“Norwegian has done what they can to get the license within the allotted time,” Ole Martin Erikstad, judicial director for Luftfartstilsynet, told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). “We believed it was unnecessary to risk flight disruption because of a possible delay.”
The authorities have thus granted a four-month extension to Norwegian, to allow it to continue operating its new routes to Bangkok and the US even though the flights technically violate Norwegian law by using lower-paid Asian cabin crews. That’s what has upset SAS, which has claimed the state authorities are giving Norwegian an unfair competitive advantage.
“This just proves that it pays to avoid Norwegian law and find creative solutions,” Eivind Roald of SAS told DN. SAS now may file a complaint over the extension.