Okay, some of these “cheap flights to Europe” are getting ridiculous. First, WOW Air brought mystical $99 flights from the U.S. to Iceland. And then Ryanair wanted to offer $15 transatlantic flights. And then that didn’t happen. Now, Norwegian Airlines is trying to pave the way to permanently cheap flights, after winning the approval to offer even more low-cost flights between the U.S. and Europe.
Norwegian just won the approval from the Department of Transportation to offer additional
discounted fares out of the country— already, the airline offers budget flights to London,
Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm. The new provisions allow the airline to organize flights from other EU nations (Norway is not a member)— namely Ireland, in this case— to serve as a starting point for new subsidiaries throughout Europe.
So why does this matter? It will bring down flight prices to Ryanair levels, something that Norwegian’s CEO envisioned last year. For example, the first service would see flights between Boston and Cork, Ireland costing as little as $150 one-way.
Though this is great news for budget-conscious jetsetters, that’s not the case for those in the industry. The recent passage has already irked many U.S. airlines, who see this as an attempt by Norwegian to skirt U.S. labor laws and outsource flight crews from Asia at lower wages. Such “Walmartification” is illegal in the U.S., surprisingly, but would be legal in Ireland. That said, during negotiations last year, the airline pledged to hire only American or European crews on any new transatlantic flight. So it’s now turning into a he-said-she-said kerfuffle.
Furthermore, according to USA Today, organizations like The Air Line Pilots Association complain that the passage would give Norwegian an “unfair advantage” over U.S. airlines on transatlantic routes. Or is the “unfair advantage” just capitalism being a bitch?
DOT said it investigated all of these claims and found no legal basis to deny the airline nonstop flights from the U.S. to its Irish subsidiary in Cork. But vested parties still have until May 6 to respond to the ruling.
This battle may have only just begun, but hopefully it’ll end in the coming weeks.
Tom is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? but with more sunscreen and jorts.