Airlines which crew their planes with low-wage international workers could be barred from operating in the United States, under legislation now being considered in the US House of Representatives.
USA Today reports that the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee added language to the bill reauthorising the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that would allow the FAA administrator to prohibit airlines from entering the US market if their practices are seen as eroding US labour standards.
The measure would target carriers like Norwegian, whose incorporation in Ireland allows the airline to hire workers from Singapore, where wages are lower.
“The measure defends US aviation workers against foreign carriers’ shopping the globe for cheap labour while upholding the letter and spirit of our Open Skies agreement with the European Union,” said Tim Canoll, president of the Air Line Pilots Association.
Lawmakers expressed concern that the Obama administration’s approval of Norwegian Airlines to fly in the US could allow other airlines to follow the low-cost carrier’s hiring blueprint.
The provision in the FAA reauthorisation bill was cosponsored by Rep. Frank LoBiondo, Republican of New Jersey, and Rep. Peter DeFazio, Democrat of Oregon.
DeFazio said that unless the law is changed, “any airline can set up under a flag of convenience to exploit weak labour laws in other countries, save money and undercut competition.”
Norwegian officials say they don’t expect the legislation to curtail the carrier’s current or future operations in the US.