India Responds To US Alleging "Unfair Practices" In Repatriation Flights

The DOT notice requires Air India "to obtain prior approval from the Department in the form of a statement of authorization before operating any Third and/or Fourth Freedom charter flights to or from the United States".

It said that the Indian government has imposed restrictions that prevent U.S. air carriers from making full use of charter rights.

It added that this was to restore a level playing field for U.S. airlines and they would reconsider the decision once United States airlines were also allowed to operate flights to and from India.

As India expands its massive exercise to bring back stranded Indians, the United States served notice that it would require prior approval for flights to and from America unless U.S. airlines too get a piece of the action.

On March 25, the Indian government had suspended all scheduled passenger services in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. The flight was scheduled as part of "Vande Bharat Mission" a Government of India initiative to undertake the largest ever repatriation from all over the world, for return of Indian nationals stranded overseas due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also said, " On May 26, 2020, Delta Air Lines, Inc.

Reacting on this, the Ministry of Civil Aviation in its release also talked about establishing bilateral arrangements. "A communication has now been received on 19 June detailing these requests", the ministry statement said. That delay has not hindered Air India, which is planning to operate effectively 53% of its normal USA schedule, according to the Department of Transportation. Currently, only Air India is operating repatriation services in and out of India. In such a scenario, neither country needs to close the border to protect citizens. With this, Air India, from now on, would have to take specific authorisation from the DOT to conduct such flights.

Such a plan has been in the works after the USA accused India of "discriminatory practices" and violating fair trade practices during the Vande Bharat mission- the repatriation exercise being carried out by Air India.

"The corporate/community organisation wishing to operate a chartered flight may identify an air transport operator (ATO)", said a statement from the embassy.

Moreover, it said: "Air India shall file applications for statements of authorization required... at least 30 calendar days before the proposed charter flights".

Muscat: Organisers of charter flights being used to repatriate Indian nationals to their home states in Oman must ensure they follow all the pre-boarding procedures listed by the state to which they are flying. The Fourth Freedom rights allow an airline to fly from another country to one's own country.


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