Mexico fails air safety assessment; maintains Category 2

After more than a year since the United States downgraded air safety in Mexico to Category 2, the Secretariat of Infrastructure, Communications, and Transportation ( SICT ) reported this Thursday that it will continue as category 2 for at least a few more months.

Through a statement, the agency noted that from June 13 to 17, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) conducted its seventh audit at the request of the Federal Civil Aviation Agency (AFAC) of Mexico.

Although the results will be announced by the SICT at the end of July, during the afternoon it was leaked in the media that the FAA would not approve Mexico’s return to Category 1 due to various irregularities.

The FAA does not assess the safety of Mexican airlines, but rather government oversight.

The AFAC even detailed among the revised aspects are the aeronautical legislation, financial resources, and budget, hiring of adequate personnel, sufficient and with the pertinent tabulators, certification, and surveillance, as well as the operation of the various technical and aerial inspection systems.

However, there are still three more audits to go, since a maximum of 10 reviews was established from the beginning.

“For the SICT, the final objective is not only to recover Category 1 in aviation, but to continue the process of administrative, financial, and training improvement, which guarantees the safety of the millions of Mexicans who use air navigation services, both in national and foreign airports

SICT promised to recover Category 1 in four months, which did not happen. And in August 2021, the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE), Marcelo Ebrard, set a new deadline: the first half of this year, but it was not met either.

This downgrade has prevented Mexican airlines from adding new flights to the United States and has limited the ability of airlines to carry out commercial agreements.

Mexico was the main international air destination for Americans during the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic, before the closure of the borders of Europe with almost 2.3 million passengers on flights between the two nations in 2020.

Given the downgrading to Category 2, Mexico is among the countries that do not meet the minimum safety standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization ( ICAO ), where there are only eight other countries, which are: Bangladesh, Curacao, Ghana, Malaysia, Pakistan, Panama, and Thailand.

In May 2021, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador considered that the FAA’s decision is about helping to boost airlines in the United States during difficult times brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and that there are no issues with Mexico’s compliance with safety standards.

“It can be proven that there are no problems. However, there are interests, because those who benefit when there is a measure of these are the US airlines “

The last time the FAA downgraded Mexico was in July 2010, restoring it to category 1 four months later.

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