The American Interest has details on how the Air Line Pilots Association and established U.S. airlines got the House of Representatives, on a voice vote on "an arcane budget amendment," to block Norwegian Air from operating cut-rate transatlantic flights:
Under pressure from Delta, US Air, United, and the pilots' union, however, the House voted to forbid the Federal Aviation Administration from issuing Norwegian the necessary air operator certificate.
The charge these corporate interests level against Norwegian Air is that it hires Thai pilots and American flight attendants to circumvent high union prices—in other words, it cuts costs like any other business. Only in air travel is this unusual, as Norwegian Air itself pointed out recently. Noting that their safety and labor records are on par with industry standards, it cut to the heart of the issue:
"Norwegian believes that competition on intercontinental flights is long overdue. Flights between the U.S. and Europe have traditionally been way too expensive. Why should a flight between New York and Europe cost three times as much as a flight between New York and Los Angeles? The flight to Europe is only about an hour longer, sometimes even less."
Air travel remains one of the most cartelized sectors of the economy, and Transatlantic travel remains its most overprotected segment. Competition in this area is long overdue.