U.S. accuses India of unfair practices on charter flights

By David Shepardson
(Reuters) - The US Department of Transportation on Monday accused the Indian government of "unfair and discriminatory practices" in charter flight services to and from India and issued an order requiring Indian airlines to apply for approval prior to charter flights.
The order will allow US officials to "review Indian airline charter flights on a case-by-case basis".
The division said it was "trying to restore a level playing field for US airlines" under the US-India air service agreement. The Indian government has banned all scheduled flights, citing the corona virus, and has not approved U.S. airlines for charter operations, the department said.
The Indian embassy in Washington did not respond immediately. The order is valid from July 22nd.
The ministry previously accused China of unfairly denying US carriers the ability to operate flights and asked China to pre-authorize some charter flights.
The US government said Air India has been operating two-way "repatriation" charter flights between India and the United States since May 7.
Air India is promoting flights that "would make up 53% of the scheduled flights that took place before the current public health emergency began," the ministry said.
"Given this flight rate and the fact that Air India sells tickets on the market, the charters go beyond real returns, and it appears that Air India uses return charters to circumvent the Indian government ban on scheduled flights." "
The U.S. government raised objections to the Indian government for the first time by being hired by the U.S. embassy in New Delhi on May 28.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Leslie Adler and Kim Coghill)

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