Report By: Nandika Chand | Last Updated June 23, 2020
The US government has restricted Air India’s Vande Bharat flights and accused India’s national carrier of discriminatory practices. The Department of Transport has alleged that India has violated a treaty governing aviation between the two countries. Air India is the only airlines operating international flights to and from India amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an official statement, the Transport Department said US airlines have been prohibited from flying to India by aviation regulators. It said the situation creates a competitive disadvantage for US carriers. “A foreign air carrier of India will be required, effective 30 days after the service date of this Order, 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 US,” the department said. “We are taking action because the government of India has impaired the operating rights of US carriers and has engaged in discriminatory and restrictive practices with respect to US carrier services to and from India.”
Furthermore, the Department said the restrictive and discriminatory treatment of US carriers as regards charters has important implications in the area of scheduled operations as well. The statement also said imposed restrictions prevent US air carriers from making full use of these charter rights. “The charters go beyond true repatriations and it appears that Air India may be using repatriation charters as a way of circumventing that nation’s flight restrictions,” it said.
Air India has caught itself in a controversy of charging double the air fare amid the pandemic as its the only airline operating international flights. Indian citizens have no choice but to pay hefty amounts to get home.