Air Safety Rating Downgrade Less Damaging Than ExpectedBy Jorge Ramos Zwanziger | Wed, 06/02/2021 - 16:17
Airlines connecting Mexico and the US announced they will continue operating as usual after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded Mexico’s air safety rating. While airline associations had warned that the move would hurt both countries’ aviation industries, its impact has been smaller than expected.
FAA downgraded Mexico’s air safety rating from Category 1 to Category 2 after determining that the country “does not meet International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards.” After this decision was announced, Mexico’s National Air Transport Chamber (CANAERO) warned that it would greatly affect the aviation industry of both countries, reported MBN.
However, carriers have announced that the impact of this move could be smaller than expected. Mexico’s ultra-low-cost airline Viva Aerobus, for example, announced that it expects no effects on its operating routes to the US, which represent 14 percent of its total operations. The airline explained in a Press Release that the downgrade will not affect travel itineraries for its customers. Viva Aerobus offers over 20 routes to the US, including Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, New York and San Antonio, among many others. Viva Aerobus stated that it still plans to keep its growth plan, particularly for the national market.
Ultra-low-cost airline Volaris is another Mexican airline that claimed its routes will remain unaffected. “Volaris will maintain the services it currently provides. […] However, Volaris’ fleet may continue to grow, as the FAA's action does not limit Volaris from adding additional aircraft to its Mexican Air Services Operator Certificate, nor does it prevent Volaris from deploying such aircraft to serve the Mexican and Central American markets,” said the company in a press release. Volaris added that it will support authorities regain Mexico’s Category 1 safety rating.
US Delta Airlines also claimed its flights to and from Mexico will not be affected thanks to its collaboration with Aeroméxico. Delta Airlines’ President Glen Hauenstein said the company was “incredibly safe” during an investor conference held on May 25, according to FlightGlobal. “This is not about Aeroméxico; this is about the Mexican version of the FAA and not having some of the right protocols in place,” he explained during the conference. “We have no issues with the safety of Aeroméxico itself.” However, Hauenstein did mention the downgrade will be an obstacle for the company’s future growth.
With the downgrade, US airlines cannot create new routes to Mexico. This is not the first time Mexico’s air safety rating is downgraded, as during 2010 the country’s safety rating was also downgraded for four months. Carriers hope that this one is just as short.