FAA Downgrades Mexico’s Air Safety Rating—Here’s What That Actually Means

Just as summer time holidays are selecting up between the U.S. and short-haul worldwide locations comparable to Mexico, the Department of Transportation made an announcement that vacationers may need discovered jarring on Tuesday: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded Mexico’s air security score.

Based on a reassessment of the Mexican authorities’s aviation oversight from October 2020 to February 2021, the FAA found that the nation’s air regulators didn’t meet sure worldwide requirements. These requirements are set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, the aviation arm of the United Nations.

Based on the evaluation, the FAA modified its security score of Mexico’s regulators from a Category 1—the best rating—to a Category 2. Here’s a breakdown of what this shift means and the way it impacts vacationers.

What precisely does a ‘downgrade’ imply?

A vital distinction that bears repeating is that this variation of security score applies to Mexico’s aviation regulatory physique—the Agencia Federal de Aviacion Civil—and isn’t a security evaluation of individual airlines primarily based within the nation.

“This downgrade to Category 2 is specifically not an indictment of Mexico’s air carriers,” says Bob Mann, founding father of aviation analytics and consulting agency R.W. Mann & Company. “FAA took this step to urge Mexico to improve its aviation oversight—personnel licensing, record keeping, and airport and airways facilities management.”

When these points are improved, a Category 1 score could be restored. Indeed, the FAA launch states that the company “is fully committed to helping the Mexican aviation authority improve its safety oversight system to a level that meets ICAO standards.” That contains providing assets to convey the oversight again according to the worldwide necessities. 

“The U.S. identified 12 problems with Mexico’s air safety, and four had already been addressed before the downgrade occurred,” says Henry Harteveldt, an airline analyst and president of Atmosphere Research. “Mexico believes it will be able to address the remaining problems within three months. That’s an ambitious timeline, but the financial impact of this downgrade is substantial enough to force the Mexican government and airlines to act quickly.”

What is definitely going to alter this summer time?

Not a lot that U.S. vacationers will discover. In follow, the change in score implies that airways primarily based in Mexico can not add new flights to the U.S. or enhance the dimensions of the plane used on present flights—which might add extra seats on current routes. That’s little doubt a significant monetary hit as journey reopens. On the flip aspect, U.S. carriers are nonetheless allowed so as to add new routes and extra seats into Mexico (they usually have been in droves as extra Americans feel comfortable traveling again.)

The decrease score additionally implies that Mexico’s airways can now not codeshare flights with U.S. carriers in the intervening time. This will have an effect on two U.S. airways with such codeshare agreements, which is a partnership wherein carriers function flights for each other, typically to increase their route networks in different nations or areas: Delta, which companions with Aeromexico, and Frontier, which companions with low-cost airline Volaris.

Safest airlines in the world, Qantas

“Customers whose travel was booked directly with Delta will receive an email update about their itinerary. For customers whose travel was booked by a travel agency, additional details will be shared soon,” Delta mentioned in a release

“Our codeshare partner Frontier will remove its code from flights operated by Volaris, although customers will still have the option to purchase flights from Volaris and Frontier through the companies’ websites,” Volaris mentioned in a similar release.

Those airways should do some additional paperwork, however vacationers scheduled on one of many codeshare flights for this summer time ought to nonetheless be capable to fly. “Passengers booked by U.S. carriers under codeshares on Mexican partner carriers will have to be reticketed,” says Mann. “That is probably the most onerous consumer aspect of the downgrade.”

How typically does this occur?

The FAA is all the time reassessing aviation security oversight in nations around the globe. However decrease rankings are rare. “These downgrades happen rarely, in great part because countries and airlines that want to serve the U.S. know it’s essential that safety is paramount,” says Harteveldt. 

Oftentimes, a nation’s regulators are downgraded, the problems are resolved, and they’re restored to a Category 1 rank. “The most recent example of a downgrade and recovery would be South Korea, where safety management systems were faulted,” says Mann. Other nations which have rebounded from a downgrade up to now embrace Indonesia, Ukraine, and Israel.

Other than Mexico, nations at the moment ranked as Category 2 with the FAA embrace Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia, Curacao, Thailand, Ghana, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (which incorporates islands like St. Lucia, Dominica, and 5 others), and Venezuela. 

Is it nonetheless secure to fly on Mexico’s airways?

Yes. “The Mexican airlines that have been given permission to fly to the U.S. meet FAA’s safety standards,” says Harteveldt.

On the entire, the aviation trade nonetheless regards Mexico’s airways as secure. “We believe Aeromexico is incredibly safe,” Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s president, said at a conference on Tuesday. “This just isn’t about Aeromexico. This is concerning the Mexican model of FAA and having a few of the proper protocols in place. We don’t have any points with the security of Aeromexico itself.”