The US administration had imposed restrictions on Air India's repatriation flights, citing the reason that discriminatory treatment was being given to American airlines as India wasn't approving the US to operate similar flights.
It effectively means that no charter flight from Air India will be allowed to operate on Indo-US routes from July 22 onward without specifically permitted by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) and as of now, Air India is the only foreign air carrier operating on this route.
After the United States restricted charter flights from India, India finally gave a response to the US, saying that it is considering establishing "individual bilateral bubbles" with the US, the UK, Germany and France allowing airlines of each country in the pact to operate international passenger flights.
Centre examining request
DOT had specifically stated that, "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."
This order was dated June 22. The DOT had further expressed concerns that a competitive disadvantage was created due to the situation.
The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation on Tuesday issued a statement saying that the ministry is contemplating further opening up in response to demands as it looks at the prospect of establishing individual bilateral bubbles.
The Aviation Ministry further stated that the destinations that were being operated from still have demand for travel and the final decisions pursuant to negotiations are still not final.
The ministry also added that it was closely looking at bilateral arrangements as it moves from restricted and managed aviation evacuation of the citizens in different parts of the world and foreign nationals from India.
The statement read, "We have received requests from authorities in several countries including the US, France, Germany among others requesting that their air carriers be allowed to participate in the transportation of passengers along the line being conducted by Air India under Vande Bharat Mission. These requests are being examined."