SpiceJet granted “designated airline” status to operate between India and the USA (and UK)

There have been many interesting things happening in the air travel world recently, with many airlines, alliances and so on happening which one wouldn’t have thought of in a pre-corona world. For a few weeks now, there has been a discussion about SpiceJet taking an Oman Air A330 aircraft on wet lease, for instance. We still don’t know what is going to come out of this discussion, but last we heard, hints were dropped that SpiceJet wanted to start some flights to Europe, specifically to London.

a group of airplanes parked on a runway

However, this morning, in a stock exchange filing, there is some even more interesting news, coming out of the blue. SpiceJet has been granted designated carrier status to operated between India and the United States of America.

a letter with a red circle and a red circle with a red circle and a red circle with a red circle with a red circle with a red circle with a red circle with a white circle with

What does this mean? Well, under the Air Services Agreement between India and the USA of 2005, India and the USA have the right to designate as many airlines as it wishes to conduct international air transportation, subject to the permissions from the other country as well. So, subsequent to India’s designation of SpiceJet, it may have to still get an OK from the appropriate authority in the USA (FAA/DoT).

Under Annex I to the India-USA Air Services Agreement, routes for the airline or airlines designated by the Government of India are permitted to operate:

1. From points behind India via India and intermediate points to a point or points in the United States and beyond.
2. For all-cargo service or services, between the United States and any point or points.

Under Annex II to the India-USA Air Services Agreement, Airlines designated have the right to carry international charter traffic of passengers (and their accompanying baggage) and/or cargo (including, but not limited to, freight forwarder, split, and combination (passenger/cargo) charters):.

An airline can have one of the two designations, either as a Scheduled carrier or Charter carrier. SpiceJet seems to have applied and gotten approved the status of a Scheduled Carrier between India and the USA.

I asked Nitin Sarin, the managing partner at Sarin & Co., an India-based firm which specialises in aviation law, about the way forward. He said,

SpiceJet, apart from being designated as a carrier, will need the Economic Authority and Safety Authority from US DoT. This is required if SpiceJet will fly their own metal to the USA. In case of long-term wet lease (above 60 days), the wet lessor must obtain authority from the US-DoT.

Putting the dots together, it seems SpiceJet might wet lease the Oman Air A330-300 aircraft, and then proceed to operate some flights between India and the USA using these aircraft. I checked the range of the aircraft, since it is supposed to be based at Delhi, and it seems one could do shore to shore, but I don’t think this will really work with a full aircraft, and in most cases, a stop would be required.

a map of the world

Would this mean SpiceJet would be the next airline operating Vande Bharat flights between India and the USA? We have to see…

Update: Subsequently, SpiceJet has also been allocated ‘designated’ status for UK.

What do you make out of SpiceJet getting this designated carrier status between India and USA? Is it going to just codeshare, or will they really fly people or cargo between the two countries?

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. Painful for passenger. Airline with no experience of US travel is going to carry passenger with zero comfort an connivence. Ultimately passengers are the looser.

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