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Flag-of-convenience airlines took a step closer to becoming a reality after the U.S. Department of Transportation approved on December 3 a foreign air carrier permit for Norwegian Air International (NAI) to fly one of its subsidiary airlines into American airports.

“NAI, flagged in Ireland, sets up a ‘flag-of-convenience’ model in aviation – the same business model that destroyed U.S. shipping,” declared the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), which is part of the MTD-affiliated Communications Workers of America. “NAI will use this ‘flag-of-convenience’ model to hire crews from countries with the lowest labor and safety standards, such as Malaysia or Thailand.”

The AFA stated the permit goes against the labor protections that were negotiated into the U.S.-European Union Open Skies Agreement.

Like the MTD, the AFA is affiliated with the London-based International Transport Workers’ Federation which has been fighting such an approval at the global level.

Bloomberg News reported bipartisan Congressional disappointment with the decision, citing the harm it could do to American jobs. The AFA and other airline unions are urging members to contact both the White House and their members of Congress to overturn the permit.