The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in the United States has upheld the decision to grant Norwegian Air International (D8, Dublin Int'l) a Foreign Air Carrier Permit allowing it to operate flights to the country, rejecting a challenge filed by American labour unions, USA Today has reported.

In a ruling issued on May 11, the court said that the US Department of Transportation had no valid legal reasons to reject the application filed by the Irish unit of the Norwegian Group, neither on the grounds of federal nor international law.

Norwegian Air International secured the FACP in December 2016 after a protracted, three-year-long internal review at the DOT.

The unions have opposed the granting of the FACP from the very beginning, arguing that by establishing an Irish subsidiary, Norwegian (DY, Oslo Gardermoen) is effectively becoming a flag-of-convenience carrier and is thus contributing to the undermining of labour standards.

However, the court has ruled that neither the Open Skies agreement between the US and the European Union nor the DOT internal rules explicitly allow for denial of an FACP purely on the basis of labour woes.

The case was filed by four American labour unions - Air Line Pilots Association, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, Allied Pilots Association and Southwest Airlines Pilots Association. The ALPA, which has led the case, is now calling for the US Senate to include labour protection clauses in future law to avoid the repetition of the situation.

According to the ch-aviation capacity module, Norwegian Air International operates a total of 42 flights weekly to the US, connecting Newburgh and Providence with Dublin Int'l, Edinburgh, Shannon, Cork, Belfast Int'l, and Bergen. The low-cost group's transatlantic services are also operated by Norway-based unit (out of continental Europe) and Norwegian UK (out of London Gatwick).