Budget airline SpiceJet on Friday said it has been designated the scheduled Indian carrier to operate flights to the United States. However, it is unclear when SpiceJet’s services will begin. Currently, after the coronavirus-induced lockdown, only national carrier Air India is operating flights on the India-US routes.

“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,” it said in a regulatory filing.

While domestic flights resumed in India from May 25, the ban imposed on international flights is in place for more than four months due to the coronavirus pandemic. The DGCA barred international flights from March 23. However, on July 3, it had said some international scheduled services on selected routes may be permitted on a case-by-case basis.

Ajay Singh, chairperson and managing director, said the designation will help SpiceJet plan their international expansion in a much better and calibrated manner, News18 reported. “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,” he said in a statement. “From operating over 4,300 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’s shares ended the day’s trade 4.85%, or 2.20 points, higher at 49.65 over Wednesday’s close of 47.45 on the Nifty50.

Corrections & clarifications: The headline and article have been edited to remove any doubt that the airline is the first-ever private carrier to operate flights to the US. The news comes specifically after the pandemic-induced lockdown.