U.S. Department of Transportation Makes Progress with India in Bilateral Aviation Relations
On September 3, 2020, the Department initiated the process to lift the suspension of Indian carriers’ authority to self-handle at U.S. airports. The conclusion of this issue will become the second major civil aviation success achieved on a bilateral basis with India this summer, following on the negotiation of the U.S.-India aviation bubble that allowed U.S. carriers to resume passenger services to India.
The Department has taken this most recent action, through the issuance of a Show Cause Order to amend the permit of Air India, because the Government of India has removed the barriers that have prevented U.S. carriers from exercising rights under the U.S.-India Open Skies Agreement. Interested parties will have 21 days to submit public comments on Show Cause Order, and 7 days following that period to respond to comments. Upon the conclusion of the comment periods, the Department issue a final decision taking into account any public comments. The President will then have 60 days to disapprove that decision. Upon the expiration of that 60-day period, the change to Air India’s permit will take effect. The Show Cause Order can be found on www.regulations.gov by searching “Docket- DOT-OST-2019-0066” or “Docket- DOT-OST-2007-0125” or “Docket- DOT-OST-2005-21135.”
Q: What is ground handling?
A: Ground handling refers to the wide range of services provided to facilitate an aircraft in preparation for and upon conclusion of a flight. Common examples include ticketing, check-in, baggage sorting, refueling, and de-icing.
Q: Do Indian airlines perform their own ground handling (“self-handling”) operations in the United States?
A: Historically, Indian airlines have made the commercial decision to contract with ground handling service providers at U.S. airports rather than self-handling.
Q: Why is the Department taking this action now?
A: We have initiated this action because we have confirmed that the Government of India is now allowing U.S. carriers to perform the full range of self-handling operations at Indian airports. Accordingly, we will restore self-handlings opportunities at U.S. airports to Indian air carriers.