US retaliates banning Air India's self ground-handling at airports
_A Monitor Report16 Aug, 2019 | 274 Views|-+
Mumbai : US Department of Transportation (DoT) has banned Air India to perform its own ground-handling functions (self-handle) at all five airports in the country connected by the airline. The ban follows US DoT's order amending the foreign air carrier permit of India's flag carrier served on July 30.
Prior to the order, the DoT issued a show-cause notice on April 19 to Indian carriers warning them that the department may impose a ban on self-handling by Indian carriers since India does not allow foreign airlines to "exercise their bilateral right to perform their own ground handling (self-handle) at Indian airports".
India amended its ground handling regulation in 2017 which also prevents international carriers from carrying out these functions beyond the security hold area at airports where passengers undergo frisking.
These regulations, however, disregards the Air Service Agreement signed between the two countries in 2005. As per the agreement, "each designated airline shall have the right to perform its own ground-handling in the territory of the other Party (self-handling), or, at its option, select among competing agents for such services in whole or in part. The right shall be subject only to physical constraints resulting from considerations of airport safety."
A senior official of the Civil Aviation Ministry of India had earlier said it was working with the External Affairs Ministry to address these "aberrations". The official, however, did not comment on the latest US order.
Air India operates in five destinations in the US - San Francisco, Washington, New York, Newark and Chicago. An official from the airline informed that this will not affect any of their flight at any of the airport they fly to because they outsource ground handling services at most international stations through a transparent bidding process. Ground handling includes boarding, baggage handling, refuelling, and catering.
All US carriers flying into India outsource their ground handling too. However, the ban certainly puts a further strain on Indo - US trade ties that have reached a dead end in the past few months.