US places new limits on flights from India

Federal regulators are placing new restrictions on flights from Indian airlines to the United States, according to a new report.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration will not allow Indian airlines to increase the number of flights they make to the U.S., and existing flights will be subject to additional checks, the Indian newspaper Mint reported Friday.

The restrictions are related to the FAA's downgrade of India's aviation safety ranking, Prabhat Kumar, India's director general of civil aviation, told Mint. Following a September audit, the FAA concluded that Indian airlines face inadequate regulations at home that do not match with international standards. This could include insufficient rules for areas such as technical expertise, personnel training and inspection procedures.

The state-run Air India and Jet Airways, the second-largest Indian airline, are the two major carriers from that country that will be affected by the ruling because they both operate flights to the U.S.

“Yes they have downgraded India,” Kumar told the newspaper.

The FAA downgrade places Indian airlines in line with carriers in countries like Ghana, Indonesia, Uruguay and Zimbabwe, the news website Quartz reported.

An Indian airline watchdog group that was formed in the wake of the 2010 crash in Mangalore that killed 158 people told Mint the downgrade has been a long time coming.

“I am not surprised,” said Mohan Ranganathan, a member of India's Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council.

“The deceit of (Indian airline regulator) and aviation ministry has finally been exposed," he added. "Blatant abuse of regulations in safety and flight standards directorate were swept aside for political and commercial considerations. The last two years have seen the lowest in integrity levels. Persons responsible should be held accountable and not let off lightly for bringing this shame upon India.”