On June 22, the US Transportation Department levelled accusations on Indian government that it is engaging in alleged unfair and discriminatory practices on charter air transportation services to and from India.
It issued an order demanding Indian air carriers to apply for authorisation before conducting charter flights. The order has permitted US officials “to scrutinise charter flights by Indian carriers on a case-by-case basis”, with effects from July 22.
With reference to the US-India Air Transportation Agreement, the US department said it,” seeks to restore a level playing field for US airlines. The Indian government, citing the coronavirus, has banned all scheduled services and failed to approve US carriers for charter operations”.
According to the US government, “Air India has been operating what it calls “repatriation” charter flights between India and the United States in both directions since May 7″.
It added that Air India is advertising flights, “that would constitute a rate of 53 per cent 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.
The US had first raised its objections on India’s charter flights on May 28.