a large airplane with colorful designs on it

US FAA Restores Mexico’s Category 1 Safety Rating

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has returned Mexico’s aviation safety rating to Category 1 following more than two years of close collaboration between the countries. This will allow Mexican carriers to expand US routes and add new services.

On Thursday, 14th September, Mexico’s Transport Minister Jorge Nuno confirmed that staff from the US Embassy gave him a letter indicating that they are returning Category 1 rating to Mexico after two years.

Mexico’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) rating was downgraded to Category 2 by the FAA regulator in May 2021, after the agency found the country did not meet ICAO safety standards. This resulted in US airlines scooping up the market share in a major blow to Mexican carriers.

This was the second time Mexico was downgraded by the US aviation watchdog to Category 2, as it was downgraded in 2010 for the first time. Back then, Mexico regained Category 1 status in only four months.

Who is Flying the Boeing 737 MAX?
Aeromexico Boeing 737 MAX

“The FAA provided expertise and resources via technical assistance agreements to Mexico’s Agencia Federal de Aviacion Civil (AFAC) to resolve the safety issues that led to the downgrade. The agency sent a team of aviation safety experts multiple times over the last two years to assist with the work.”

FAA Spokesperson

New Services and Routes

According to the FAA, with the return to Category 1 status, Mexican airlines can now add new services and routes to the United States. In addition, US airlines can also resume marketing and selling tickets with their names and designator codes on Mexican-operated flights.

Mexican airlines including Aeromexico and Volaris could add around 50 routes between Mexico and the US that would be active this winter following the change, as reported by Reuters.

Mexico continues to remain the top international destination for US airline passengers. A total of 23.4 million passengers traveled between the two countries through July, significantly more than the 17.4 million between the US and Canada, the second largest destination.

IATA Welcomes the Move

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has welcomed the decision of the FAA to reinstate Mexico’s Category 1 aviation safety rating. IATA further stated that it remains committed to close and permanent cooperation with the authorities to facilitate the growth of the industry in the medium and long term.

“The connectivity between Mexico and the United States is one of the most important in the world and contributes significantly to the social and economic development of the country. With the return of category 1, Mexican airlines will leave behind the prior restrictions, which have considerably affected the post-pandemic recovery and ability to grow their service in the Mexico – U.S. market.” 

Peter Cerda, IATA’s Regional Vice President for the Americas.

Feature Image via Aeromexico