Transportation Department rejects exemption for low-cost air carrier to fly between US, Europe

Industrials Associated Press

The Obama administration has rejected a request by a low-cost air carrier to begin flying immediately between the U.S. and Europe in a case that has significant labor and trade policy implications.

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The Transportation Department turned down a request by Norwegian Air International for an exemption to allow it to begin service before the government is finished reviewing its application for new flights.

European carriers are usually granted such exemptions under a U.S.-European Union aviation agreement.

The carrier's origin and ownership are Norwegian, but it plans to register its planes in Ireland and to hire pilots using a Singapore hiring agency and base them in Thailand.

Pilots unions and U.S. airlines opposed the exemption, saying Norwegian is using Ireland as a "flag of convenience."