Thursday, May 16, 2019

Tit for tat: US suspends self-handling rights of Indian airlines

The US has ordered the suspension of self-handling rights of Indian carriers at American airports, retaliating under a bilateral air services agreement against denial of similar concession to US passenger airlines here, sources told FE.

Analysts say, for the time being, the US move is unlikely to hurt Air India, the only Indian carrier operating direct flights to key cities like Washington, New York and Chicago, as it has already outsourced its ground handling work to different agencies at American airports. However, if the problem persists, the US may choose to retaliate in some other way or raise red tape for the Indian carrier, they fear. As for the American airlines, while United is the only carrier to operate flights to India currently, Delta Air Lines has also announced plans to launch a flight from December.

For its part, India has asked the US to refrain from implementing the order. To diffuse the situation, New Delhi has proposed to allow self-handling by the US carriers but with a security oversight by Indian agencies and said costs of such oversight will be borne by the US side, according to the sources.

The US Department of Transportation has also ordered that Indian carriers report their ground handling arrangements at American airports, while a separate directive mandated Indian airlines to submit their operating schedules, according to the sources. The US is learnt to have conveyed to the Indian side that these orders will remain effective until a solution is found.
In his talks with US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross earlier this month, commerce, industry and civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu is understood to have flagged the issue.
17/05/19 Banikinkar Pattanayak and Arun Nayal/Financial Express

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