The FAA has downgraded Mexico’s safety rating from Category 1 to Category 2 following a recent reassessment of the country’s aviation authority because it does not meet International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards, the U.S. agency said Tuesday. The downgrade means that Mexican carriers may not open new service or routes to the U.S. and U.S. airlines can no longer market and sell tickets with their names and designator codes on Mexican-operated flights. As a result, Delta Air Lines will have to remove its code from Aeromexico flights, although Aeromexico can continue to place its code on Delta flights.
In a statement to AIN, Delta said all its current routes to Mexico will continue and the decision would not affect its ability to adjust schedules or increase service. Separately, during Tuesday's Wolfe Research Global Transportation and Industrials Conference, Delta Air Lines president Glen William Hauenstein said that the U.S. airline does not believe the decision reflects any safety deficiency at Aeromexico. "This is not about Aeromexico," he insisted. "This is about the Mexican version of the FAA having the right protocols in place."
During its reassessment of the Agencia Federal de Aviacion Civil (AFAC) from October 2020 to February 2021, the FAA identified several areas of non-compliance with minimum ICAO safety standards, it added. A Category 2 rating means that the country’s laws or regulations lack the requirements needed to ensure its air carriers meet minimum international safety standards or the civil aviation authority lacks in one or more areas such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping, inspection procedures, or resolution of safety concerns. The FAA did not explicitly identify in which area or areas the Mexican authority does not meet ICAO standards.
“The FAA is fully committed to helping the Mexican aviation authority improve its safety oversight system to a level that meets ICAO standards,” the FAA said in a statement. “To achieve this, the FAA is ready to provide expertise and resources in support of AFAC’s ongoing efforts to resolve the issues identified in the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) process.”
Under the IASA program, the FAA assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that have applied to fly to the U.S., currently conduct operations to the U.S., or participate in code-sharing arrangements with U.S. partner airlines. The assessments determine whether international civil aviation authorities meet minimum ICAO safety standards, not FAA regulations.