Ryanair chief commercial officer David O’Brien believes Norwegian is being unfairly “frozen out” of the transatlantic market despite its “playing by the rules”.
Speaking at the ACI Europe general assembly in Prague last week, O’Brien used the delay by US regulators in approving a foreign air carrier permit for the Oslo-based carrier’s Irish subsidiary – Norwegian Air International (NAI) – as evidence that competition was being restricted on the transatlantic market.
“Norwegian are no friends of ours but they are obeying the rules and they are still getting screwed over,” he says. “Norwegian are playing by the rules – it’s just, in this case, the rules don’t suit the big guys.”
O’Brien was seeking to counter arguments made by Lufthansa Airlines chief executive Karl Garnadt that the transatlantic market is "completely open for new entrants” and that “we don’t have a situation where one or two carriers are dominating the market”, although Garnadt describes Norwegian as a “different story”.
Matej Zakonjsek, head of cabinet at the European Commission’s transport office, said that the delay in approving NAI’s application was being “addressed” by the Commission.