Mexico Recovers U.S. Category 1 Airline Safety Rating

In Cancún, Playa del Carmen & Tulum by Christina Silvestri

In a highly-anticipated announcement, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador revealed that Mexico has successfully regained its Category 1 air safety status as recognized by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“Yesterday (September 7) in an unofficial way, because they are going to do the procedure next week, they informed Foreign Minister Alicia Bárcena. The Secretary of Transportation of the U.S. government spoke with her to inform her that they have already decided to give Mexico Category 1,” stated President López Obrador.

The President emphasized that Mexico has met all the necessary criteria to achieve this milestone. “This is a sign, a sign that relations are very good,” he added, suggesting the upgrade is a testament to strong ties between Mexico and the United States.

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The FAA had previously downgraded Mexico from Category 1 to Category 2 in May 2021, citing that the country wasn’t up to the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialized agency of the United Nations. The downgrade, which happened on May 25, 2021, had far-reaching implications. It restricted Mexican airlines from establishing new routes to the U.S., and similarly, U.S. airlines were prevented from promoting or selling code-share tickets with Mexican carriers.

To secure a return to Category 1, Mexico implemented a series of comprehensive measures to enhance its air safety standards. This has been a strategic focus for major Mexican airlines like Volaris, Viva Aerobus and Aeromexico.

“Once the U.S. authorities announced the upgrade, we are prepared to use the flexibility of our business model to redeploy approximately 5% of our total capacity to international markets in the fourth quarter,” Enrique Beltranena, CEO of Volaris, shared during a conference with analysts and investors in July.

The reclassification to Category 1 not only symbolizes the enhanced safety and quality of Mexico’s aviation industry, but also opens the door even wider for the tourism sector. The news comes as a breath of fresh air for travelers, airlines and tourism operators who can now look forward to expanded routes and increased collaboration between Mexican and American airline carriers.

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