US restores India's aviation safety rating after a year, letting Indian carriers add flights

NEW DELHI – U.S. aviation authorities restored India’s safety rating on Wednesday a year after a downgrade, allowing Indian carriers to increase the flights they operate to the United States.

The announcement came after a meeting between U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and India’s Minister of Civil Aviation Ashok Gajapathi Raju, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi said in a statement.

The Federal Aviation Administration downgraded India’s rating in January 2014, after assessing that its civil aviation safety oversight did not meet international norms.

The renewed Category 1 rating permits Indian airlines to add U.S. flights and to offer code-share flights with U.S. carriers.

“The United States Government commends the Government of India for taking corrective action to address the safety oversight issues,” the statement quoted Foxx as saying.

Foxx did not say what actions had been taken by India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation, but officials from both sides have been meeting since December to discuss the issue.

There was no immediate comment from Indian carriers that fly to the U.S. but business consultancy company KPMG hailed the move.

“Given the huge growth expected in Indian aviation and the safety challenges thereof, we can’t afford to be complacent,” Amber Dubey KPMG’s India head of aerospace and defence.