An India-US diplomatic spat is brewing over a decision of the US’ Department of Transportation (DOT). DOT has moved to sanction Indian carriers for the violation of the US-India Open Skies air services agreement (ASA). The move is in retaliation to India’s bar on US carriers to do their own ground handling at Indian airports that was part of the ASA.
While the move involves passenger services, it is unlikely to cause a major upheaval at airports since Air India, the only Indian carrier operating to Washington, New York and Chicago has outsourced ground handling to different agencies at the airports. Till date, United is the only carrier operating flights to India and problems could come when Delta launches its flights to India from December this year.
For the time being, however, there is truce: India has asked the US not to bar Indian carriers. And, on its part, India has allowed US carriers to do their own ground handling. This is, incidentally, being done under an Indian security oversight for which the cost is being borne by the US carriers.
The bar, however, has affected cargo carrier Kalitta Air from the US. According to reports, it sent out a letter on May 9 to DOT. The cargo carrier supporting DOT’s Show Cause order to India pointed out that although it had not experienced any problems in ground handling at Indian airports – since it has outsourced these services at Delhi – it had faced “great difficulty”