SpiceJet plans to start operations between India and the US, the airline informed the BSE on Thursday.

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. 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 the review of the public comments, the 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 TSA or Transportation Security Administration, a department of the US Home Land Security, is 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 had been funded.

It was several years after moving the initial application that Jet Airways was finally able to launch flights to the United States. Government sources, however, said that authorisation does not take time.

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

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

India and US have an open sky policy that allows as many airlines to operate as many flights to as many cities as they want in the two countries.

Before the Covid pandemic broke, 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.