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US Department of Transportation downgrades Mexico’s aviation safety standards to Category 2

Mexico City, Mexico — The U.S. Department of Transportion has downgraded Mexico’s safety standards to a Category 2. The announcement of the downgrade from a Category 1 was made Tuesday. The downgrade means Mexican airlines will be able to continue to fly to the United States, but not add new routes, incorporate planes or modify frequencies.

On Tuesday, the government body made the announcement saying “the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced that the Government of Mexico does not meet International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards. Based on a reassessment of Mexico’s civil aviation authority, the FAA has downgraded Mexico’s rating to Category 2 from Category 1.

“While the new rating allows Mexican air carriers to continue existing service to the United States, it prohibits any new service and routes. U.S. airlines will no longer be able to market and sell tickets with their names and designator codes on Mexican-operated flights.”

The FAA has had lengthy conversations with Mexican aviation regulators about their concerns. The agency said it was “fully committed to helping the Mexican aviation authorities improve its safety oversight system to a level that meets international standards and is willing to provide expertise and resources” to resolve issues in the process.

On Monday, as news of the possible downgrade spread, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that US authorities should not downgrade Mexico’s air safety rating arguing that his country was complying with all relevant regulations.

“All the rules are being met (…) we have been complying with all the requirements. We feel that this decision should not be carried out because we are up to date,” he said during his morning press conference.

The FAA said its reevaluation of the Federal Civil Aviation Agency from October 2020 to February identified several areas of non-compliance with minimum international safety standards.

The Category 2 qualification means that Mexico lacks “the necessary requirements to supervise the country’s airlines in accordance with the minimum international safety standards, or that the civil aviation authority lacks one or more areas such as technical expertise, personnel trained, record keeping, inspection procedures or security troubleshooting,” said the FAA.

Mexico’s downgrade to Category 2 means that the current services of Mexican airlines in the United States will not be affected, but they will not be able to launch new flights.

It also means US airlines will no longer be able to market and sell tickets under their names and designation codes on Mexican-operated flights. The FAA will increase scrutiny of Mexican airline flights to the United States, the agency said.