Officials from the US FAA have restored Mexico's safety rating to category one, which allows Mexican carriers to introduce new service to the USA.
FAA downgraded Mexico to category two status in July of this year, and Latin and Caribbean airline association ALTA later stated a major driver behind the downgrade was a lack of check pilots. ALTA has also previously said it was hopeful Mexico's safety status would be upgraded by year-end.
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt told ATI and Flightglobal at the recent ALTA Leadership Forum in mid-November that he expected Mexico to regain category one status "reasonably soon", and he was encouraged by the Mexican government's commitment to restore its safety rating.
FAA's downgrade of Mexico to category two occurred just before Mexicana entered creditor protection and ceased operations in August. Some US carriers worked to fill the void on US routes left by Mexicana. Aeromexico chief executive Andres Conesa recently said the carrier would be interested in potentially launching service to some of the US markets Mexicana was serving, but needed to wait for Mexico's upgrade to category two.
Countries with a category one rating comply with ICAO safety standards, while those downgraded to category two lack laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards. Deficiencies by a country's civil aviation authority in oversight of technical expertise, trained personnel, record keeping or inspection procedures also warrant a downgrade.
"At Mexico's request, the FAA will continue to provide technical assistance to support and maintain the changes the civil aviation authority has made," says FAA.