Aviation News

Huge: FAA downgrades Mexico’s Air Safety Rating

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) yesterday announced that the Government of Mexico does not meet the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards. As a result, the FAA has downgraded Mexico’s rating to Category 2.

This is the 2nd time that this has happened. The 1st one occurred 11 year ago in 2010.

What does this mean?

FAA’s downgrading Mexico’s Air Safety Rating possibility has been in the air since October last year. During its reassessment of the Civil Aviation Federal Agency (AFAC, Mexico’s FAA), the FAA identified several areas of non-compliance with minimum ICAO safety standards.

A Category 2 rating means that the country’s laws lack the necessary requirements to oversee the country’s air carriers. However, this does not mean that Mexican airlines are not safe.

This decision allows Mexican airlines to continue existing service to the United States; it prohibits any new service and routes. Therefore, what Aeromexico, Volaris, Aeromar and Viva Aerobus have scheduled today will remain in place while Mexico is in Category 2.

According to Cirium’s database, presently, these airlines are offering 5,771 monthly flights between Mexico and the US. If we compare this to pre-pandemic levels, these 4 airlines have already regained 100% of their capacities.

United States-based airlines are also affected by this decision. FAA in a statement said:

US airlines will no longer be able to market and sell tickets with their names and designator codes on Mexican-operated flights. The FAA will increase its scrutiny of Mexican airline flights to the United States.

This mainly affects 2 airlines: Delta Airlines and Frontier Airlines. Delta has a joint venture agreement with Aeromexico and Frontier has a codeshare agreement with Volaris.

Statements by Airlines

At the time of writing, only Ultra low gist carrier Volaris and the Mexican pilot union (better known as ASPA) have made public statements.

Volaris said:

Currently, we are operating at 113% capacity of what we had in 2019. Our operation levels in the US will remain the same until Mexico recovers its Category 1 status. As we had planned before, our growth plans will focus on the domestic and other markets we have the authorization to fly to.

Meanwhile, ASPA said:

The downgrade is for the country and the civil aviation authority, not for the Mexican airlines. We are fully committed to help the authority with our expertise and knowledge and find a solution to the findings of this audit.

Glen Hauenstein, President of Delta airlines spoke about the issue. He said that Delta would be forced to remove its codes on Aeromexico’s flights. However, Aeromexico can continue to code on Delta’s flights. Plus, Delta’s loyalty program members could still receive SkyMiles on Aeromexico flights.

Now what?

As aforementioned, this is not the 1st time that FAA has downgraded Mexico’s Air Safety Rating. It did so previously in 2010. Mexico was in Category 2 for four months before regaining its previous status. The aim is to do the same this time.

The FAA also said that it is fully committed to helping AFAC improve its safety oversight system. To achieve this, the FAA is ready to provide expertise and resources to support AFAC’s ongoing efforts to resolve the issues identified in the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) process.

Featured image by Mexico Now

What do you think of the FAA’s decision to downgrade Mexico’s Air Safety Rating to Category 2? Let me know in the comments section below.

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