Without responding directly to the allegations levelled by the US Transportation Department that it was discriminating against foreign carriers, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has said that it is "now looking at the possibility of establishing bilateral arrangements".
"We have received requests from concerned authorities in several countries including 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. These requests are being examined," the Ministry said on its Twitter handle.
The statement came after the US Department has asked for a "level playing field for US airlines" under the US-India Air Transport Agreement and issued an order requiring Indian air carriers to apply for authorisation prior to conducting charter flights.
It's basic grouse was that even as Air India flew in and out of the US airports, under Vande Bharat Mission, American airlines weren't allowed to do the same.
Also read: Are Vande Bharat repatriation flights discriminatory, as US govt points out?
Following is the full statement of Ministry of Civil Aviation:
"We have received requests from concerned authorities in several countries including 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
These requests are being examined. We have also had one round of negotiations with the US on 15 June with representatives of the US Department of Transportation and US Embassy on this issue.
They were invited to submit precise proposals in this respect. Communication has now been received on 19 June, 2020 detailing these requests.
As we move from controlled and managed aviation evacuation of our citizens in different parts of the world and foreign nationals from India, we are now looking at the possibility of establishing bilateral arrangements.
These evacuation flights which were primarily meant for the evacuation of our citizens from all over the world are now increasingly carrying Indians and citizens of other countries outbound to countries where they are normally resident.
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."Also Read | Repatriation flights on June 23: Daily updates on arrivals, departures under Vande Bharat Mission