Italian to arbitrate in Norwegian licence row

November 29th, 2016 11:55 AM

By Siobhan Cronin

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AN Italian is to be appointed as EU arbitrator in the case between the US and the EU over Norwegian Air International and their application to fly between Cork and Shannon and the US. 

The US issued a tentative approval to Norwegian to begin the flights in April of this year, but to date have not granted a licence, in direct contravention of the EU/US Open Skies agreement. 

The European Commission announced last July that they would take the unprecedented step of arbitration over the failure of the US to grant Norwegian a licence. 

Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune said Professor Giorgio Sacerdoti, the arbitrator, was a suitably qualified candidate, having served eight years in the Appellate body of the World Trade Organisation. She welcomed the appointment which, she said, signalled the official beginning of the arbitration process.

The Ireland South MEP has also written to US Transport Secretary Foxx to ask that he approves the licence before the end of his tenure on January 20th. 

‘It has been almost three years since NAI applied to the US Department of Transport to operate this service, and despite the issuing of a tentative approval in April of this year, there has been no decision from the US to date,’ said the MEP. ‘The licence comes under the Open Skies agreement and should be granted without delay. It has been largely held up due to political interference and pressure from unions on the US side.’ 

Cork Airport’s managing director Niall MacCarthy welcomed the move by the European Commission (EC) to end the stalemate by taking the unprecedented step of triggering arbitration. ‘I hope that this move will end the deadlock that has emerged between the US and EU officials in relation to Norwegian Air International’s application for a foreign carrier permit, which was first submitted in 2013,’ he said this week.

‘The continued US delay in awarding the licence to Norwegian has gone well beyond acceptable and we are pleased that the EU, with the full support of the Irish Government, is now pressing ahead on arbitration to get this dispute finally resolved.’

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