US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced (26-Jan-2011) that Croatia has complied with international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), based on the results of a reassessment of Croatia’s civil aviation authority. Croatia has made significant progress and is now upgraded from the Category 2 safety rating the country received in Sep-2008 to Category 1 according to the FAA. A Category 1 rating means the country’s civil aviation authority complies with ICAO standards while a Category 2 rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its civil aviation authority is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, recordkeeping or inspection procedures. With the Category 1 rating, Croatian air carriers will now be able to establish new service to the US. [more]
US FAA raises safety rating for Croatia
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Norwegian Air's NAI at last gets final approval of US rights in a boost to long haul growth
On 2-Dec-2016 the US Department of Transportation (DoT) served an order granting Norwegian Air International (NAI) a foreign air carrier permit, as required by the EU-US open skies agreement, to which Norway is a party. Almost three years after NAI's application it seems that the EU's 30-Nov-2016 filing for arbitration finally panicked the DoT into finalising its tentative approval given eight months ago.
Since launching long haul operations in summer 2013 Norwegian has grown its long haul network to 37 routes operated in 2016. In spite of the delay in receiving the US permit for NAI, 34 of these routes are between cities in Europe and the US. The only Asian destination is Bangkok, linked to the three Scandinavian capitals.
The DoT's final decision means Norwegian can now use its Irish-registered subsidiary NAI to fly long haul routes from Europe to destinations both east and west with the same operating airline, and with EU traffic rights in both directions. This should increase its operational flexibility and cost efficiency and allow lower fares on a greater number of routes. Norwegian already has ambitious long haul growth plans. Expect these now to accelerate further, and not only to the US.
Norwegian Air's North Atlantic seats up 51% this summer, but longer term long haul growth needs NAI
Norwegian continues to await the long-delayed approval of a US foreign carrier permit for its Irish subsidiary Norwegian Air International (and for its UK subsidiary Norwegian Air UK). US traffic rights for these two subsidiaries would give Norwegian the opportunity to fly both east and west with the same operating airline and with EU traffic rights in both directions. This would increase the operational flexibility and cost efficiency of its long haul operations and allow lower fares on a greater number of routes.
Nevertheless, in the meantime and aided by low fuel prices, Norwegian is getting on with an ambitious trans-Atlantic expansion plan and has now carried three million passengers between Europe and the US since 2013. Its summer 2016 seat capacity has jumped by 51% year on year (based on OAG data for the week of 5-Sep-2016), including nine new routes this summer. It plans two more routes in the coming winter schedule and four US routes from Barcelona in summer 2017.
Well over half of Norwegian's North Atlantic routes are new to the market, which has been significantly stimulated by its entry. This has provided choice and lower fares for passengers, and created new airline jobs. Those still seeking to block approval for NAI and NUK are acting against the interests both of consumers and aviation workers.