Norwegian has mounted a defence of its operating model after criticism from pilot union ALPA.
In a statement issued on 17 December, ALPA accuses Norwegian of seeking to "exploit legal and regulatory loopholes" to "gain economic advantage over US airlines".
The union is calling on the US Department of Transportation to reject a foreign air carrier permit application from Norwegian Air International, an Irish sister company to which the Oslo-based low-cost carrier is transferring its long-haul business. "The exploitation of the laws intended to prevent labour-law shopping cannot be allowed to stand," says ALPA president Lee Moak.
Norwegian responds: "Those familiar with the airline industry also know that competitive wages and conditions are not country-specific – but rather follow an international standard."
The airline, which bases its long-haul flightcrew in Bangkok, serves the Thai capital and US destinations from Scandinavia. It will add US routes from the UK's London Gatwick airport next year.
Its long-haul pilots have European Aviation Safety Agency certificates and are attracted, the airline argues, by "highly competitive conditions on a par with both US and other European carriers", plus "the opportunity to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, a brand-new aircraft type that offers improved in-flight working conditions".
The airline says it "always follows the rules and regulations in all markets we operate", and that it is reacting to market opportunities created by the open-skies agreement, which "seeks to transform the transatlantic market by removing barriers and protectionist schemes".
Cabin-crew bases that Norwegian intends to open in Fort Lauderdale and New York next year will create "several hundred" new US jobs, says the carrier.
"We encourage American pilots to come work for us," it adds. "To do so, they will need an EASA licence."