Opinion: Trump, the NAI, and the U.S. Airline Pilot
Well, folks, no matter which side of the political fence you sit on, one thing’s for sure: we’re in for a wild four years. As protesters filled the streets worldwide, the new U.S. President Donald Trump came out swinging, knocking around Executive Orders like they were baseballs at the batting cage.
For his supporters, the Orders represent the new president making good on his campaign promises. One order repealed various aspects of Obamacare, another withdrew the U.S. from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP.) What’s more, Trump has announced plans to renegotiate NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) with Canada and Mexico.
For the U.S. airline pilot, this is encouraging news. Why? The answer can be found in a rally to be held at the White House today at 12:30pm, by airline pilots throughout the country, from Southwest to NetJets.
The 3-letter-word they are protesting: NAI. Norwegian Air International.
It late December last year, the Obama administration granted a flight permit to the Irish subsidiary, which allows NAI to begin its “Flag of Convenience” operation on Jan. 29. This scheme uses a shell subsidiary in another country to unfairly undercut the competition.
Says APA, “Norwegian Air International’s flag-of-convenience model will kick off a global race to the bottom as more and more carriers establish subsidiaries in foreign countries with lax labor laws, tax loopholes, and weak safety and security oversight.”
Make no mistake: this flawed model threatens safety and security in the skies.
What’s more, Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association spokesman Chip Hancock says that if the Norwegian operation begins, it will force down U.S. aircrew wages.
“The Obama administration has tilted the field of play in favor of a foreign competitor,” Hancock said, which puts thousands of good-paying, middle-class, U.S. aviation jobs at risk. Hancock noted that Pilots at regional airlines are already being paid as low as $30,000 per year. Hancock fears that European and other foreign airlines may eventually mimic the Norwegian plan, eventually forcing U.S. airlines to slash airline salaries. “There are tens of thousands of jobs at stake,” he warned.
Moreover, The AFL-CIO, the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), the Association of Flight Attendants (CWA), and American Airlines’ Allied Pilots Association (APA), collectively representing more than 100,000 aviation workers in the U.S, have all joined forces in a plan to sue the Feds to overturn the deal.
However, in light of the new administration’s actions and promises, that may not be necessary. Gauging from President Trump’s demeanor regarding fair play for the U.S. worker vs. the international competitor, hopes are high that he will quickly comply with an Executive Order sinking the ill-crafted deal.
Love the new president or hate him. But, if Trump signs an order striking the NAI deal, he will have hit this one out of the ballpark.