Posted on Jun 26th, 2020 by Heena Ganotra, Last updated Nov 1st, 2021, Leave a Comment
After the US government restricted Air India’s Vande Bharat flights from India citing “unfair and discriminatory practices” on 22nd June 2020, the Civil Aviation Ministry of India announced that it is considering to establish “individual bilateral bubbles” with the US, the UK, Germany, and France. Under this, requests from these countries to operate similar flights are being examined. Simply put, this will allow airlines from each of these countries to operate international passenger flights.
Why This Restriction?
Air India had been operating chartered flights to repatriate its citizens from different parts of the world owing to COVID-19 travel disruptions since May 6. However, Indo-US routes have been operating since May 18 where tickets on both legs are sold. While tickets on the India-US leg are booked through the AI website, tickets on the US-India leg are booked after getting in touch with the Indian embassy in the US.
What caused the US government to ban AI flights is because it violated the treaty that governed aviation between the two countries by selling tickets to the public. “The charters go beyond actual repatriations and it seems that Air India may be using repatriation charters as a way to circumvent,” the US agency said.
The reason behind this retaliation is also because, all this while, the Indian government hadn’t been allowing US carriers to fly to India which has irked US DOT beyond limits. “We are taking this action because the Government of India (GoI) has impaired the operating rights of US carriers,” said the DOT order. Adding further, DOT said that because Indian airlines are allowed to offer services under the “US India Air Transport Agreement” and US carriers are not, it creates a competitive disadvantage for US carriers vis-a-vis Indian carriers.
Now, according to the officials, the restrictions imposed on the flights operated by India will be reconsidered once the restrictions on US carriers are removed.
Extra Scoop Of Information – The US government took this action after it imposed restrictions on Chinese Airlines, accusing them of unfairly banning US airlines. It has agreed to allow four flights from China in a week, but only if the US carriers are allowed to fly the same number of flights to China.
Solution Being Worked Upon?
In an effort to reduce the tension between the countries, the establishment of “individual bilateral bubbles” as a possible solution has been announced by the Civil Ministry of Aviation. “As we contemplate further opening up in response to demands, we are looking at the prospect of establishing individual bilateral bubbles – India-US, India-France, India-Germany, and India-UK,” stated the Ministry. Under this, green corridors shall be set-up between countries, allowing travel by passengers from both sides.
What are Green Corridors?
A Green Corridor is synonymous with a Travel Bubble. It is an agreement that involves two countries to accelerate the travel processes, which in this case is amidst the pandemic restrictions. Usually, these corridors are created between countries that have succeeded in curbing the situation in question (pandemic). However, India and the USA have plans to make way for the corridor before having achieved this success. The reason behind only four countries being involved in this process is because travel demand from these countries hasn’t diminished.
Only time will tell what move is trusted on next. However, one good thing is that, in a recent webinar, the Civil Ministry revealed that it is planning to come out with a date to resume international flights somewhere in July. Let’s hope for the best!
A writer by both passion and profession, Heena Ganotra is "half agony, half hope" but all heart. And oh, she has been a book lover from the start! Her love for books is what convinced her to make a career in the wonderful world of words. She loves what she does and is out-and-out a satisfied soul with a wish to spread happiness like herpes. Insight- Some say she is living the best life anyone could because she reads, writes, travels, and makes merry. They’re right because what else does one really need! :)