As tensions rise in China and India over a disputed border, the U.S. is taking an even-handed approach: threatening to ban both of them from flying to the USA unless U.S. carriers are given more access to their nations. The latest issue is repatriation flights on Air India.
USA: India Operating Bogus Repatriation Flights
India is now operating daily so-called “repatriation” flights between India and the USA and Canada. At the same time, U.S. and Canadian carriers are not allowed to operate to India. This has prompted the U.S. Department of Transportation to accuse India, which owns flag carrier Air India, of engaging in “discriminatory practices.”
“Air India is advertising flights that would constitute a rate of 53% of the scheduled services it operated before the onset of the current public health emergency.
“Considering this rate of flying, and that Air India is selling tickets on the market, the charters go beyond true repatriations, and it appears that Air India may be using repatriation charters as a way of circumventing the GoI-imposed prohibition of scheduled services.”
Air India now sells “repatriation” tickets online, which the U.S. says indicates that it is really no longer “true repatriations.” Thus, moving forward Air India charter flights will need to be approved on a case-by-case basis.
USA Wants To Level Playing Field
A DOT order promises that this decision will be revisited once India levels the playing field.
“The Department seeks to restore a level playing field for U.S. airlines, as provided for in the U.S.-India Air Transport Agreement. The Department is willing to reconsider this action once all applicable restrictions on U.S. carrier rights cease to be applied to U.S. carriers, and a level playing field has been restored.”
This order was issued on June 22, 2020 but does not take effect until July 21, 2020, giving Air India up to a month to continue to exclusively operating flights between the USA and India.
India Now Discussing Re-Opening Flights Between USA and India
Live from a Lounge notes that India is not pushing back against the concerns, but is now considering travel bubbles between a handful of nations in which citizens could travel back and forth without extensive quarantine requirements.
We have received requests from concerned authorities in several countries including US, France, Germany among others requesting that their air carriers be allowed to participate in transportation of passengers along the line being conducted by Air India under Vande Bharat Mission pic.twitter.com/MK5xNHV0Hx
— MoCA_GoI (@MoCA_GoI) June 23, 2020
The “Vande Bharat Mission” is what India has called its global efforts to repatriate Indians since the pandemic closed much of the world in March. Vande Bharat Express is the name of India’s fastest train.
The USA and other nations make a very reasonable point concerning the one-sided nature of air traffic in India right now. With Air India now put on warning, it is likely that more flights will resume to India in the weeks ahead.
If you are considering signing up for a new credit card please click here and help support LiveAndLetsFly.com.
image: Brian / Wikimedia Commons