NEW DELHI: US aviation authorities have downgraded India’s safety ranking in a “disappointing” and “surprising” move that will hit air links between the countries, India’s aviation minister said on Friday.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded India after conducting an audit last year of the country’s aviation regulator that found 31 issues of safety concern, a ministry statement said.
The issues include the need for more and better trained full-time inspectors employed by the regulator tasked with carrying out safety checks on all types of aircraft and helicopters in India, it said.
“They have downgraded us to category 2. It is very disappointing and also surprising,” Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said at a press conference in New Delhi.
FAA has “determined that India at this time is not in compliance with the international standards for aviation safety oversight,” according to the notes it gave to the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA).
The rating downgrade brings India below Pakistan and on a par with countries like Bangladesh, Ghana and Indonesia, according to FAA.
The downgrading effectively bars Air India and Jet Airways from increasing flights to the US, and additional safety checks will now be imposed on existing flights to the United States, the FAA’s website shows.
Currently, Air India has 21 flights to the US per week while Jet Airway flies seven.
Indian airlines will also have to snap ties with US airlines, according to the website, but DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar said the downgrade would not affect the code-share agreement.
Jet has a code-share agreement with United Airlines currently, while Air India is joining Star Alliance.