UPDATE 1-U.S. to allow Indian air carriers to conduct ground handling operations

(Adds details, no immediate comment from Indian embassy in Washington)

WASHINGTON, Sept 3 (Reuters) - The U.S. Transportation Department said Thursday it planned to restore the ability of Indian air carriers to conduct ground handling operations at U.S. airports.

The announcement comes as India is now allowing U.S. air carriers to perform the full range of ground handling operations at Indian airports, the department said.

Those ground operations cover services to facilitate an aircraft in preparation and conclusion of flights, including ticketing, check-in, baggage sorting, refueling, and de-icing.

Air India should be allowed to resume operations after the department adopts a final order.

The Indian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In late July, India agreed to allow U.S. air carriers to resume flights after coming under criticism from the Trump administration.

The Indian government, citing the coronavirus, had banned all scheduled services from the United States, prompting the Transportation Department in June to accuse India of engaging in “unfair and discriminatory practices” on charter air carriers serving India.

The Trump administration said in June it wanted “to restore a level playing field for U.S. airlines” under the U.S.-India Air Transport Agreement. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Sandra Maler and Aurora Ellis)