The tactics are well known by now: India is threatening to withdraw traffic rights from international airlines to defend its interests. The country's government was not shy in applying that approach when it came to Europe's planned emissions trading system (ETS). This time, the issue is not politics per se; it is the future of Air India, the struggling flag carrier.
Austrian Airlines and Swiss International Air Lines, both subsidiaries of Lufthansa Group, are being investigated by the Indian Aviation Ministry to determine whether they comply with the substantial ownership and effective control clause that has historically formed the basis of bilateral air service agreements. Officials have indicated to Swiss and Austrian executives that the airlines might soon find themselves barred from services into India if they are found to be operating in violation of those terms.