The Indian government has stripped Air India (AI, Delhi International) of its preferential status insofar as the allocation of international traffic rights is concerned following the state-owned carrier's sale to Tata Sons earlier this year.

Airline executives told the Business Standard newspaper that following the move, the Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has now dropped Clause 3.6 in its regulations - "due consideration shall be given to operational plans submitted by Air India before allocation of the traffic rights to other eligible applicants" - which had prioritised the former flag carrier's business plans over those of other airlines.

"The central government may, at its discretion, grant or deny [the] allocation of traffic rights to any air transport undertaking having regard to its preparedness to undertake such operations, viability of the operations on a particular route, overall interests of the civil aviation sector etc.," the revised version states.

As such, the playing field is now seen as being more level given Air India also no longer has access to the Indian government's seemingly depthless pockets.

Aside from Air India and its Air India Express low-cost subsidiary, the only other Indian carriers that operate international flights and that are therefore affected by the change in policy include IndiGo Airlines, Go First, SpiceJet, and Vistara.