SpiceJet has been designated as Indian Scheduled carrier for the flight services to the US, making it the only private Indian air carrier in India and only the second airline after Air India to operate flights to the Unites States under the air bubble agreement.
In a letter to BSE, Spicejet said - "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 USA."
Ajay Singh, Chairman & Managing Director, SpiceJet said, “It gives me immense pleasure to share that SpiceJet has been designated as an Indian scheduled carrier to operate between India and the US. This designation would help us plan for our international expansion in a much better and calibrated manner. I have always maintained that there is an opportunity in every adversity and the present crisis situation has seen SpiceJet rise to the occasion and play a pivotal role. From operating over 4300 cargo flights to carrying over 24,000 tons of cargo to operating over 400 charter flights to bring back thousands of stranded Indian nationals back home, SpiceJet has worked non-stop and contributed in whatever manner possible.”
Spicejet currently operate single aisle narrow body aircrafts for it domestic flights and also international operations to the gulf countries under Mission Vande Bharat. However, for operations to the US, they would need wide body aircrafts.
SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh earlier said that all Indian airlines need to start looking for wide-body aircraft now as it would allow them to take passengers directly from India to different parts of the world.
In India, only Air India and Vistara have wide-body aircraft like B787 in their fleet. All other airlines have narrow-body aircraft or even smaller regional aircraft in their fleet.
"I think we all as Indian carriers need to look at a wide-body option now. But it has to be supported strongly by government policy. If you are going to allow the network carriers, people who are in the Gulf and in the Far East to just keep billions of dollars from their government and keep undercutting us, then it is very difficult to do (operate wide-body aircraft)," he said at a webinar.
During the pre-COVID era, the majority of international air traffic in India was being handled by foreign carriers. A significant section of air traffic of Gulf carriers like Etihad and Emirates used to come from India.
Wide-body aircraft like B787 and A350 have bigger fuel tanks that allow them to operate long haul flights. Narrow-body aircraft like A320 and B737 are for short-haul or medium-haul flights. Scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown.
Under the fourth phase of Vande Bharat Mission, Air India has announced 180 flights to the US.
In June the US Department of Transportation (DoT) had said that it would restrict charter flights from India, accusing New Delhi of engaging in "discriminatory and restrictive practices".
Following the announcement, the Civil Aviation Ministry said that it has received requests from several countries, including the US, France and Germany for allowing their air carriers to participate in the transportation of passengers along the line being conducted by Air India under the Vande Bharat Mission and that the ministry was examining the requests.