Kalitta Air (K4, Detroit Willow Run) has come out in support of the Trump administration's tentative move to sanction India, and by extension Indian-flagged carriers, over New Delhi's alleged violation of the United States-India Open Skies air services agreement (ASA).

Given what it said was India's continued failure to allow US carriers to carry out their own security-related ground handling at Indian airports as permitted under the ASA's terms, the US Department of Transportation (DOT), last month, issued a Show Cause order which, if finalised, would suspend Indian operators' ability to carry out self-handling in the United States. It would also require Air India, as the only Indian carrier to serve the United States following the collapse of Jet Airways, to lodge copies of its commercial agreements regarding service to the US for review by the DOT.

Kalitta Air has since filed a letter of support with the DOT in which it advocates for the finalisation of its Show Cause order. In correspondence dated May 9, the Michigan-based cargo specialist said that while it has not experienced any issues regarding ground handling in India (as it contracts out these services at Delhi Int'l), it has experienced "great difficulty" in bringing in relief flights to cover for AOG events at Delhi airport.

It listed two AOG events in 2017 when time-sensitive shipments for DHL Express were delayed after the Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) refused to allow Kalitta to divert another aircraft to pick up the cargo from the stranded aircraft and continue the flight via the substitute aircraft.

"The Indian DGCA, however, would not permit the relief flight to operate, stating that it regarded this to be a change in schedule, which requires formal permission with a lead time of three working days. This caused a substantial delay in the movement of Kalitta's freight, and harmed the carrier's customer, who missed promised delivery schedules for thousands of packages," it said.

Kalitta argued that these denials violated the terms of the US-India ASA which allows for different flight numbers to be combined under one aircraft operation and which also allows for a change in aircraft gauge.

"Kalitta Air is hopeful that the Department will be able to secure a formal pledge from the DGCA that it will respect the needs of U.S. carriers to exercise their rights under Annex I, Sections 2 and 3 on an emergency basis when needed to prevent delay of a cargo shipment, or, alternatively, that the DGCA will amend its regulations to provide for emergency substitution of aircraft, without the need to go through an amendment of the carrier's schedule," it added.

Kalitta Air has leveraged the Trump administration's America First policy to address perceived violations of the US's various Open Skies treaties. More recent Kalitta Air submissions regard US carriers' access to Amsterdam Schiphol airport, filed in 2019, and a 2017 motion to block Garuda Indonesia's application for an exemption and an amended foreign air carrier permit over the Indonesian DGCA's failure to allow 4th freedom cargo charters to non-Indonesian air carriers.