SpiceJet on Thursday said the government had nominated it as an international carrier that could fly to the U.S. in a recent bilateral agreement between the countries. However, the airline will need financial capacity to plan overseas operations, induct requisite aircraft, train pilots and undergo months of regulatory scrutiny before it can launch the flights.
“This is to inform you that in terms of the Air Services Agreement between the Government of India and the Government of the United States of America, SpiceJet has been designated as Indian scheduled carrier to operate on agreed services between India and the U.S.,” the airline informed the BSE. When two countries enter into a bilateral agreement on flights or air services agreement, they identify which airlines from within their country can operate on the routes.
“Apart from being designated, SpiceJet will need Economic Authority and Safety Authority from the US DOT. This is required if SpiceJet flies their own aircraft to the U.S. These approvals will require them to give details of the fleet to be used, etc,” according to Vinamra Longani, Head of Operations at Sarin & Co. — a law firm specialising in aircraft leasing and aviation finance.
The announcement from SpiceJet comes days after the U.S. and India agreed to allow each other’s airlines to connect the two countries after a threat from the former that it will ban Air India’s repatriation flights. It also makes SpiceJet the only airline that could fly to the U.S. apart from Air India at a time there is a demand for travel from stranded passengers, but very few flights between the two countries.
Industry watchers say SpiceJet could possibly ‘wet lease” aircraft, i.e. induct aircraft on rent along with complete crew, if it aims to launch flights sooner than later.