The United States on Monday accused the Indian government of indulging in “unfair and discriminatory practices” through its charter flight services amid restrictions on air travel due to the coronavirus outbreak, reported Reuters. The country’s Transportation Department issued an order that will allow US officials to examine “charter flights by Indian carriers on a case-by-case basis”.

The order will be implemented from July 22. The department’s order noted that this was an attempt to restore “a level playing field” for the country’s airlines as per the US-India Air Transport Agreement.

The Indian administration has banned all scheduled services due to the pandemic, but is also yet to approve the functioning of US carriers for charter services, the department added. “The charters go beyond true repatriations, and it appears that Air India may be using repatriation charters as a way of circumventing the GoI-imposed prohibition of scheduled services,” the agency said, according to Bloomberg.

Under the new order, Indian airlines will have to seek permission from the US Department of Transportation for authorisation before flying charter flights. The action taken against India followed restrictions against Chinese airlines after the US agency blamed Beijing for unfairly prohibiting American airlines. On June 15, the US allowed four flights every week from China after the country allowed the same number of US carriers.

The developments came after United States President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order to suspend several categories of foreign work visas, including the H1-B visa that is highly sought-after by Indian IT professionals, till the end of 2020. This is scheduled to be implemented from June 24.

There has been a sharp increase in the unemployment rate in the US due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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US: Donald Trump suspends H1-B, several other visa categories till the end of year