New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Hours after the US restricted special repatriation flights from India, central government on Tuesday said that India is considering establishing "individual bilateral bubbles" with several countries, allowing airlines of each country in the pact to operate international passenger flights.

In a statement, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said that it received requests from several countries including the US, France, Germany among others requesting that their air carriers be allowed to participate in transportation of passengers along the line being conducted by Air India under Vande Bharat Mission, adding that these requests are being examined.

"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, India-UK. These are all destinations where demand for travel has not diminished. Final decisions pursuant to negotiations are expected to be taken soon," the Aviation Ministry said.

The US had on Tuesday accused India of indulging in "discriminatory and restrictive practices" by violating a treaty governing aviation between the two countries and and restricted charter flights from the country.

The US accused India of "discriminatory and restrictive practices" with respect to US carrier services to and from India through the Vande Bharat repatriation mission to bring back stranded citizens. 

"..we note that Air India has been conducting self-described "evacuation" charters (i.e., repatriation charters), between India and the United States in both directions since May 18, 2020. On May 19, 2020, an official from the Department advised Air India of the Department's concerns that some, if not all, of Air India's so-called evacuation charters have gone beyond true evacuations (at least on the India to the United States segments) and involved sales to any member of the general public able to enter the United States," US Transportation Department said.

"On May 26, 2020, Delta Air Lines, Inc. ("Delta"), via letter, requested permission from the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) to perform repatriation charter services similar to those provided by Air India. To date, Delta has not received approval to perform the requested repatriation charters," it added.

The Department notified that the National Aviation Company of India Limited d/b/a Air India (Air India), a foreign air carrier of India that holds economic authority from the Department, 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 authorization to conduct such charters."

The National Aviation Company of India Limited d/b/a Air India (Air India) will have to obtain prior approval from the Department, effective 30 days after the service date of this Order, in the form of a statement of authorisation before operating any Third- and/or Fourth-Freedom charter flights to or from the US. 

(With ANI inputs)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma