video: FAA Has Approved Norwegian Air for TF Green, $69 Fare to Ireland One Step Closer

Sunday, February 19, 2017
GoLocalProv News Team and Kate Nagle

Cicilline says he wishes his legislation passed - it would have blocked Norwegian according to the head of SW's Pilots Union
GoLocal has learned that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a critical letter of approval for Norwegian Airlines. This is the most pivotal step to the realization of the high quality, low fare carrier to operate in Rhode Island.

Norwegian faced strong opposition from U.S. pilots unions and both Rhode Island Congressmen David Cicilline and Jim Langevin co-sponsored a 2016 House Resolution 5090 that if passed would block Norwegian Air’s subsidiary — the entity that will operate in Rhode Island  — from approval.

Norwegian has already held job fares in Rhode Island and may hire up to 200 to work at Green.

Latest in T.F. Green Norwegian News

On Friday, Langevin changed position and now says he supports the same position of the RI Airport Corporation.

In an interview on Friday, Cicilline claimed that his 2016 resolution did not specifically impact Norwegian Air. “But it is also very important that those jobs respect U.S. labor standards that what the bill did. It did not pass. I regret it didn’t. We want labor standards complied with, but your story in wrong..." 

But, the Southwest Airline's Chip Hancock who heads the Governmental Affairs Committee for the pilots' union said that Langevin and Cicilline’s resolution was introduced to stop Norwegian. He and other pilot union leaders meet with the Trump White House last week asking the new administration to block Norwegian.

Hancock told GoLocal in a phone interview that “passage of HR 5090 would have stopped Norwegian’s expansion.”

Hancock said that the airline pilots union will continue to take action in federal court in the D.C. Court of Appeals.  In addition, he thought that the pilots would continue to press for legislative action in 2017.

Norwegian's operation at Green would employ upwards of 200 in RI
Rhode Island Support

Despite the opposition of Langevin and Cicilline, other Rhode Island business leaders and even top Rhode Island union leaders support the effort to expand the airport.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio told GoLocal in a phone interview that he strongly supports Norwegian Air’s arrival at T.F. Green. Ruggerio is a top labor leader and serves as an Administrator for the New England Laborers Labor Management Coop Trust.

“This could be a major addition to the airport. International flights at low fares would help the airport, tourism, business and labor," said Ruggerio. "I know some of the pilots have issues, but I strongly support the expansion of Norwegian in Rhode Island.”

Norwegian is expected expected to launch with $69 one way fares to Ireland — less than the cost of taking the Acela train to New York City.

Ruggerio said to GoLocal Thursday night that the addition of Norwegian could help business and jobs across the state. “It is one of our biggest opportunities to grow the airport and the economy," said Ruggerio. 

On Wednesday while appearing on GoLocal LIVE, Governor Gina Raimondo cited Norwegian Air’s importance in recruiting major company to relocate to Rhode Island. She called Norwegian Air a “game changer” for Rhode Island.

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