SpiceJet to start operating flights to US

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 23, 2020

The airline has not given any timeline for starting flights to the US   -  AP

The airline has been designated ‘Indian scheduled carrier’

SpiceJet plans to start flights between India and the US, the airline informed the Bombay Stock Exchange on Thursday.

In a statement to the BSE, the airline said it has been designated as an “Indian scheduled carrier” for operations on agreed services between India and the US. Government sources said SpiceJet asked to be included as a designated carrier to the US in January or February this year.

It is only after a government gives designated status to an airline that it is allowed to operate flights to a country abroad, as per laid down international guidelines.

It was not immediately clear when the airline will be able to begin operations.

The norms

Under normal circumstances, a foreign carrier flying into the US for the first time has to seek permission which is known as Operating Authorisation under Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) 129.

Once this is filed, the US authorities seek public comments for which anything between 60 and 90 days is normally given. After review of the public comments, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) appoints a technical team comprising Principal Operations Inspector, Principal Airworthiness Inspector, and others to review the application before giving clearance. Besides, clearance from Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a Department of the US Homeland Security, is also required.

It may be recalled that earlier Jet Airways’ application to operate to the US ran into trouble as questions were raised about how the airline was funded.

Jet Airways’ flights to the US took off several years after the airline made its initial application.

Government sources, however, said that authorisation does not take time.

Repatriation flights

It is not immediately clear whether existing rules will apply under special times like Covid as initially SpiceJet wanted to operate repatriation flights. Currently only Air India is operating repatriation flights to the US.

SpiceJet’s current fleet of Boeing 737 and Bombardier aircraft is not capable of flying non-stop to the US. There have been media reports that SpiceJet had leased a widebody aircraft from a West Asian carrier for these flights. However, SpiceJet has not officially commented on this.

India and US have an open sky policy which does not put any restrictions on the number of flights and airlines operating between the two countries.

Before the pandemic Air India and several US carriers including United operated between India and the US. Jet Airways also flew to US through Amsterdam before it ceased operations in April 2019.

Published on July 23, 2020

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