Tourism Officials Fight to Bring Norwegian Air to RI, Langevin and Cicilline Fight Against Airline

Thursday, February 16, 2017


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Cicilline and Langevin both worked to block Norwegian Air

For months, Rhode Island officials at Commerce RI, the Airport Corporation and tourism leaders have been rolling out the red carpet to bring Norwegian Air to T.F. Green.

Meanwhile, Congressman David Cicilline and Jim Langevin joined the fight to block federal approval of the low cost international flights.

The airline, which received approval during Barack Obama’s tenure and who will offer flights starting at $69 each way to Europe, could reinvent the airport and help resurrect the Rhode Island economy.

On Wednesday, Governor Gina Raimondo, appearing on Golocal LIVE with GoLocal’s News Editor Kate Nagle said, ”If we could market our state for international flights…it is a game changer.” Raimondo voiced strong support for the addition of Norwegian Air to Green.

Norwegian Air held a jobs fair in the state in January and is expected to hold another in March. The airline may hire as many as 200 in Rhode Island, but is waiting to see if the pilots unions are successful is reversing the green light to operate in the United States that was issued by the Obama Administration.

Labor Issues

On Tuesday, airline union representatives met with the Trump Administration at the White House, making their case to reverse the approval and kill Norwegian’s efforts. 

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An effort in the U.S. House of Representatives to stop the approval of Norwegian Air --  H.R. 5090, which was spearheaded by Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR-4) -- was co-sponsored by both Cicilline and Langevin. Repeated efforts to reach both Congressman went without response - phone calls, emails and texts.

In an opinion piece issued by the airline union of Southwest Airlines wrote earlier this week, “…Norwegian Air International (NAI) wants the U.S. government to tilt the playing field in their favor by allowing them, and no one else, to circumvent their host-country’s labor laws. That’s not competition — that’s crony capitalism. Unfortunately, they were able to find a sympathetic ear with the previous administration, which issued their foreign air carrier permit on a late-Friday evening, weeks after the presidential election.”

As GoLocal reported on February 8, 2016, Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer voiced White House support for expansion of Norwegian Air to the United States.

Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary addressed the issue of Norwegian’s expansion in America and inferred that the White House saw that the airline's growth in America created significant jobs.

John Gizzi, Newsmax's chief political columnist and White House Correspondence, asked Spicer about a scheduled meeting in the White House between domestic airline executives and the President. U.S. Airline executives have been trying to block the lower cost carrier. Fares for flights from Providence to Ireland are expected to begin at $69 each way, and, if not blocked, will start service this summer.

For Rhode Island’s economy and local jobs, the addition of Norwegian to the Providence market is a game changer according to local tourism officials.

Spicer said at the briefing, “On the case of Norwegian, my understanding, if I’m correct, that there is a deal in which they’re having 50 percent of the crews and the pilots are American-based.  They’re flying Boeing planes.  There is a huge economic interest that America has in that deal right now.  I don’t want to get ahead of the President on that.  But just to be clear, I mean, when you’re talking about U.S. jobs, both in terms of the people who are serving those planes and the person who’s building those planes.  That’s a very big difference.”


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