Opposition to DOT approval could undermine jobs

Although Boeing is thoughtfully selective in taking public positions on political issues, the company is weighing in against Washington, D.C., politics that could thwart a customer’s federally approved plans to expand trans-Atlantic flights.

The situation has been reported in various media, including this article in the Everett, Wash., Herald.

Leadership of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) and Aerospace Workers and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) are opposing approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation to allow Norwegian Air to grow and expand service to the United States. That delay may cost Commercial Airplanes new orders, a Boeing spokesman said.

Bill McSherry, vice president of Government Relations and Global Corporate Citizenship for Commercial Airplanes, said the approval was legally granted after a two-year review, during which Norwegian Air dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s.

Worse, opposition could translate into undermining Boeing aerospace jobs — working against the union’s own labor force interests, according to the company.

“We hope they reconsider,” McSherry said. “By falling into the D.C. political-game trap, they are putting customers’ success and jobs on the line, and all employees ought to be concerned.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation gave tentative approval to Norwegian when it determined there were no legal or labor reasons to deny the airline’s expansion.

The determination was a landmark moment for an important Boeing customer with more than 150 airplanes on order — including the 737 MAX, 737-800 and 787 Dreamliner — and more to come.

To assuage concerns by labor unions, the airline committed to hire either U.S.-based or European-based crew members for all its trans-Atlantic flights to meet stricter labor standards.

Despite that safeguard, IAM leadership and Larsen recently announced their support for legislation in Congress that would block Norwegian’s expansion.

“It’s disappointing that IAM leadership and congressional members are hurting a key customer and undermining Boeing jobs,” McSherry said. “We already face significant competitive headwinds without this harmful effort putting even more jobs at risk.”