Why is the US DOT accusing Air India for unfair practices?
Washington, June 24: Accusing India for "unfair and engaging in discriminatory practices" the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has restricted repatriation flights being operated by Air India. With this, Air India, from now on, would have to take specific authorisation from the DOT to conduct such flights.
The DOT, in an order dated June 22, said, "Effective 30 days from the service date of this Order, it shall not perform any Third- and/or Fourth-Freedom charter flights unless the Department has granted it specific authority in the form of a statement of authorisation to conduct such charters."
What are the allegations the US made against India?
The DOT has noted that the Indian government 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".
The DOT also said that the government has prevented US carriers from conducting India-US passenger charter operations involving direct sales to individual passengers or through other distribution systems.
Also, Air India's repatriation flights have gone beyond the purpose "at least on the India to the US segments", and have involved sales to any member of the general public able to enter the US, the order stated.
Did the US government convey this to Indian government?
On May 19, an official from the DOT advised Air India of the concerns that some, if not all, of "Air India's so-called evacuation charters have gone beyond true evacuations and involved sales to any member of the general public able to enter the United States".
Later, via a letter, on May 26, Delta Air Lines requested permission from the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation to perform repatriation charter services similar to those provided by Air India.
The US government has called for restrictions on the third and fourth freedoms for India. These freedoms essentially allow basic international service between two countries. The third freedom accords the right to an airline to carry passengers or cargo from its home state to another, while the fourth freedom allows it to bring passengers or cargo from another country to its home state.