Universal’s Ground-handling Hopes Stall in India
Universal Weather & Aviation’s attempt to form a joint-venture company in India to conduct its own ground handling services has been stymied by the rejection of its license application by Indian authorities. The Houston-based company has operated in India, providing trip support for the past decade, with its agents acting in a supervisory role for the local ground handlers it uses.
Indian regulations state that 100-percent foreign equity is not allowed for ground-handling providers. According to Universal regional vice president for the Asia-Pacific region Charles Mularski, the joint-venture company applied a year ago for a license to operate at Indian airports, but recently learned that India’s Bureau of Civil Aviation Security had notified its airport authorities that the application had been denied, and that employees of the joint venture known as Universal Aero Flight Services India Private would not be granted ramp access.
Universal is currently awaiting official notification of the rejection, but the company emphasized it is still providing flight support for flights to and from India, with its ground agents there still coordinating ground handling through local providers. Citing non-disclosure agreements, Universal declined to name its joint-venture partner or the percentage of its ownership in the joint venture.