THE US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last week downgraded India's aviation safety rating from Category I to Category II, prompting US-based carriers to suspend codesharing practices with Indian airlines.
The downgrade bars Air India and Jet Airways, the only two Indian carriers serving the US, from adding new flights to the country or entering new codeshare agreements with US airlines, though existing flights remain unaffected.
News agency Bloomberg stated that the downgrade was due to India’s lack of action on the safety deficiencies found in earlier assessments but Indian civil aviation minister reportedly said that only two of 31 aviation issues were left unresolved.
Jet Airways aircraft -- Credit: Jet Airways
Sources from India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) TTG Asia e-Daily spoke to said FAA concerns have been addressed and that it has recruited 75 specialised personnel to spruce up safety parameters.
FAA’s downgrade places India in the same league as countries such as Zimbabwe, Paraguay and Indonesia. United Airlines and American Airlines Group have both reportedly withdrawn their booking codes from flights operated by Indian carriers, according to Bloomberg.
However, India’s travel trade appear unperturbed by the news. Rajendra Churiwala, director-eastern region, IATA Agents Association of India, said: “This does not imply that our airlines are unsafe. It is prodding DGCA to enhance its monitoring mechanism of Indian carriers’ safety performance norms. It is a prohibitive measure, not a punitive one.”
Sanjay Kothari, managing director of Just Holidays, noted that the downgrade would likely cramp plans by Air India and Jet Airways for more transatlantic flights.
“However, this is a temporary situation and quick compliance (with FAA standards) will reverse the restriction within a few months,” he said.