Norwegian considers basing long-haul division in Ireland

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Norwegian is applying for a permanent Irish air operator's certificate for its new long-haul division, as the Scandinavian low-cost carrier prepares for the first intercontinental deployment of its Boeing 787 on 15 August.

The Irish Aviation Authority has issued a temporary AOC for Norwegian's long-haul arm, which launched on 30 May, with two wet-leased Airbus A340s, and operates flights to New York's JFK airport and Bangkok. But that certificate - which is being used to operate the airline's 787s - will expire by year-end.

Now, the Oslo-based carrier is "in the process" of applying for a permanent AOC in Ireland to be able to employ international crew members. The airline wants to recruit flight attendants from Thailand, which would not be possible if the aircraft were registered at home as Norwegian law prohibits the employment of staff from outside the European Economic Area.

The carrier has international pilots, but the flightcrew need to be employed on Norway-based terms and conditions. This would also become more flexible under Irish regulations.

Norwegian says that it would like to operate all aircraft from Norway, but the country's strict rules and regulations prevent it from competing against other carriers with fewer limitations. The carrier adds that it had been considering different countries to its long-haul division, including Sweden, before it eventually opted for Ireland.

Also under consideration is relocation of the long-haul division's headquarters to Ireland, as it would not be legally possible for a Norway-based airline to permanently operate aircraft under another country's AOC. The carrier insists, however, that the licence transfer to Ireland applies only to the long-haul division and not the group's short-haul mainstay.

The first of eight 787-8s ordered by Norwegian was delivered at the end of June. The aircraft has been deployed on European routes for pilot familiarisation.

Norwegian is planning to employ the type on Stockholm-Bangkok route for the first time on 15 August. The aircraft is scheduled to fly to New York the next day.