FAA Restores Mexico’s Safety Rating, Enabling Transborder Expansion For Mexican Airlines

passengers boarding Aeromexico flight
Credit: Jim West/Alamy Stock Photo

The FAA says it is returning Mexico to the agency’s highest safety rating following “more than two years of close work between the civil aviation authorities in both countries," ending a 28-month saga in which Mexican airlines were prevented from expanding service to the U.S. 

Mexico’s safety rating was downgraded by the FAA to Category 2 in May 2021. Since then, Mexico’s airlines have been banned from adding new routes, increasing frequencies or changing equipment—including aircraft upgauging.

“With a return to Category 1 status, Mexico can add new service and routes to the U.S., and U.S. airlines can resume marketing and selling tickets with their names and designator codes on Mexican-operated flights,” the FAA says in a statement.

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

In May 2021, the FAA said that Mexico did not meet ICAO safety standards. The downgrade stalled across-the-border expansion for Mexican carriers. 

Cuitlahuac Gutierrez, Aeromexico’s senior vice president of institutional relations, government, airports and industry affairs, earlier this year told the Routes Americas 2023 conference in Chicago that “as an industry, we’re investing a lot in new aircraft, but we’re unable to invest those resources in the U.S., which was our most important international market.”

IATA praised the FAA’s decision. "The connectivity between Mexico and the U.S. is one of the most important in the world and contributes significantly to the social and economic development of the country,” IATA Regional Vice President for the Americas Peter Cerdá says in a statement.

“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.”

Aaron Karp

Aaron Karp is a Contributing Editor to the Aviation Week Network.