The Indian government has retroactively granted Alliance Air (India) (9I, Mumbai Int'l) approval to start international flights despite not meeting certain benchmark criteria. Normally, airlines in India are required to operate at least 20 aircraft to qualify for international service rights. However, Alliance Air currently operates nineteen Avions de Transport Régional turboprops, including one ATR42-300 and eighteen ATR72-600s, the ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows.

"The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has granted ex-post facto dispensation to Alliance Air, a 100% subsidiary of Air India, to fly on international sectors between India and Sri Lanka. A special dispensation is allowed for the interim period till Alliance Air deploys a minimum of 20 aircraft or 20% of total capacity, whichever is higher for domestic operations," a Ministry of Civil Aviation statement said.

The decision is retroactive as Alliance Air launched its first international route, from Chennai to Jaffna in Sri Lanka, in November last year. It remains the sole carrier serving the city in northern Sri Lanka and currently flies 3x weekly to Jaffna using an ATR72-600.

"India has close bilateral ties with Sri Lanka and our interest is to increase connectivity and to expand people to people contacts between the two countries. Before this approval, there was no commercial operation scheduled from Palaly [Jaffna] and Batticaloa airports," the Cabinet of India said.

Alliance Air has yet to start flying to Batticaloa although it has confirmed plans to do so. The Sri Lankan government recently opened Jaffna and then Hambantota and Colombo Ratmalana to international traffic. Batticaloa is scheduled to be the next airport to open to foreign carriers.