Mexico Aerospace Sector to Regain FAA Category 1 Soon: Volaris
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Mexico Aerospace Sector to Regain FAA Category 1 Soon: Volaris

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Rodrigo Andrade By Rodrigo Andrade | Journalist & Industry Analyst - Wed, 12/07/2022 - 15:32

Mexico’s aerospace sector could recover the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Aviation Safety Category 1 in 4Q23, said Mexican low-cost airline Volaris ahead of its 2022 Investor Day. 

“Volaris is well-positioned to benefit from the likely return to FAA Category 1 status in 2023, which we expect to enable additional routes to the US and drive further opportunities,” said Enrique Beltranena, CEO, Volaris.  

The FAA downgraded the country’s aerospace industry to Category 2 in May 2021. The downgrade stops Mexican airlines from opening new routes to the US, making it critical for the sector to recover Category 1. The country’s development of new routes and services to the US has stagnated since then. 

The FAA justified the downgrade by saying that Mexico’s aviation industry does not meet the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) safety standards and regulations. Since then, both parties have collaborated to help Mexico return to Category 1, as the Latin American country represents a key destination for the US airline industry. Volaris said that FAA representatives will have a final audit in January 2023. 

During the event, the airline also presented its objectives for 2023. Volaris increased its capacity by 18 percent in December 2022 compared to the same period in 2019, added Beltranena.

“Despite significant disruptions during the past three years, Volaris has successfully navigated COVID-19-related challenges to capture market share, manage costs and solidify our position as one of the largest foreign operators in terms of flights in the US, all while advancing our mission to enable more people to travel well,” said Beltranena. He highlighted Mexico’s strategic location and economic trends, as some of the factors that have been key to ensure the company’s growth. 

“Mexico’s favorable demographic and economic trends, together with recent consolidation in the Mexican airline industry, has enabled Volaris to achieve one of the healthiest EBITDAR margins in the airline industry globally and create significant opportunities for continued growth both domestically in Mexico and abroad. Reaching 10 million first-time fliers is clear evidence of the way discretionary travel spend is now allocated, shifting from bus to air travel,” said Beltranena.

It is critical for Mexico’s aviation industry to invest in the latest quality certifications, as it is critical to the sector’s growth, said Antonio Salem, Founder and CEO, S&A Aeronautical Consulting Group. However, as Mexico’s Federal Civil Aviation Agency (AFAC) is struggling to certify the products of Mexican companies. “The Mexican regulator for aviation and aerospace is struggling with a lack of resources, which is one of the reasons why Mexico’s airspace was downgraded by the FAA from Category 1 to Category 2. Due to these problems, the AFAC can barely help Mexican companies that want to certify products,” wrote Salem for MBN.

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