NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Norwegian Air Shuttle CEO Bjorn Kjos is visiting the U.S. seeking public support in a battle to convince federal regulators to approve the carrier's bid for a permit to serve the country.
Kjos will speak Thursday to the International Aviation Club in Washington. Afterward, airline labor leaders including Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, plan a news conference to spell out their objections to the Norwegian model.
In September, the U.S. Department of Transportation rejected Norwegian's request for an exemption that would permit Ireland-based subsidiary Norwegian Air International to serve the U.S. The rejection was unsurprising, given that Norwegian's efforts are opposed not only by unions but also by American (AAL) , Delta (DAL) and United (UAL) , which have all filed objections with the DOT.
In the speech, "I am going to talk about how Norwegian contributes to making sure Americans can afford to fly intercontinentally," Kjos said in an interview. "It's not for us. It's for the jobs you can create in the U.S.
"The main thing is to give more affordable fares to everybody," he said, because low fares increase the volume of tourism and that tourism creates job. Norwegian's trans-Atlantic round-trip fares start at around $300. It is obvious, Kjos added, why the big three U.S. airlines oppose Norwegian: All three are partners in global alliances that control nearly 90% of trans-Atlantic traffic.