On Friday, the US Transportation Department said that the Government of India has agreed to allow American air carriers to resume passenger services in the US-India market starting 23 July.
Previously, the Indian government had banned all scheduled services citing the coronavirus pandemic. This prompted the US Transportation Department in June to accuse India of engaging in "unfair and discriminatory practices" on charter air carriers serving the country.
The Transportation Department said it was withdrawing an order it had issued requiring Indian air carriers to apply for authorization prior to conducting charter flights and said it had approved an Air India application for passenger charter flights between the United States and India.
On Thursday, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that India has established individual bilateral 'air bubbles' with France and the US that will allow airlines of these countries to operate flights. Air bridges or air bubbles would be the way to resume international air travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
Air bubbles or bridges is an arrangement based on reciprocity with the said countries wherein Indians will be allowed to enter the countries in return for India receiving citizens of those countries.
"In an initiative to further expand our international civil aviation operations, air bubble arrangements with US, UAE, France & Germany are being put in place while similar arrangements are also being worked out with several other countries," Puri said in a tweet on Friday.
"Under this arrangement airlines from the concerned countries will be able to operate flights from & to India along with Indian carriers. I have no doubt these will be beneficial for our citizens who are stressed & distressed abroad or those who want to fly out," he added.
The US Transportation Department order was set to take effect next week. The Trump administration said in June it wanted "to restore a level playing field" for US airlines under the US-India Air Transport Agreement. The Indian government had banned all scheduled services and failed to approve US carriers for charter operations, it added.
The US government said in June that Air India had been operating "repatriation" charter flights between India and the United States in both directions since 7 May.