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Mexico Air Safety Rating Downgraded – What Travelers Need To Know

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Flying during the pandemic can be a nerve-wracking affair for many, and the thought of doing so is seen as one of the reasons why people are hesitant to return to the skies once more. On top of worrying about the spread of Covid-19 and new restrictions, passengers should not have to worry about the safety of the flights themselves.

However, according to the FAA, Mexico is not complying with all the relevant safety standards and has seen its airline safety rating drop as a result. Here’s a look at what has happened, and what it means for travel.

Mexico Air Safety Rating Is Downgraded By The FAA

What Happened?

When it comes to airlines, the safety of their flights is top of the list of priorities, and countless hours are invested to ensuring that the hardware, practices and facilities used by airlines are as safe as possible. On top of airlines carrying out the necessary checks and inspections themselves, safety is also categorized by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), an agency of the UN.

mexico city airport

A total of 193 countries cooperate through ICAO, whose website states they are “working toward their agreed global safety target of zero fatalities by 2030, in tandem with the strengthening of their regulatory capacities, while pursuing a range of programmes and targets relevant to current core areas of global aviation safety planning, oversight, and risk mitigation.”

westjet san jose del cabo

During an assessment of the Mexican Agencia Federal de Aviacion Civil (AFAC) between October 2020 and February 2021, the FAA found several areas of non-compliance with the minimum ICAO safety standards. Around two dozen non-compliance issues were found, with Mexico only resolving four of them. This led to the FAA downgrading Mexico’s safety rating from Category 1 to Category 2, which is the lowest level available.

flight window view

According to Reuters, the Mexican government protested the decision and fought against it, with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador claiming that his country was following all the necessary norms. It is not the first time this has happened to Mexico, with the country falling foul of the safety regulations in 2010, when it was downgraded to Category 2 for a period of four months. Other countries rated as being Category 2 include Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand and Malaysia.

aeromexico flight

What Does It Mean? Information For Travelers

The downgrade will have a significant impact on Mexican-operated flights. Category 2 status means that US airlines cannot market and sell tickets with their names and designator codes if they are Mexican-operated. For airlines such as Delta, which enjoys a partnership with the Mexican airline Aeromexico, flight reservations may need to be reissued for Aeromexico-operated flights booked through Delta.

The downgrade also means that Mexican airlines will be restricted in terms of their activity this summer. Whilst they may still continue with any existing services into the United States, they are to be prohibited from adding new routes or services.

American Tourists Arrive In Mexico

Mexico has proven to be the most popular international destination for US travelers during the pandemic, with both its close proximity and lack of Covid-19-related restrictions proving to be hard to resist for the 2.3 million Americans who took the short flight into the country. This news is sure to come as a hammer blow for Mexican airlines who may have looked to take advantage of the appetite for travel to the country with new routes, but are now prohibited to do so.

Aeromexico flight

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Monday 8th of August 2022

Of course it comes with no surprise that this is clearly a political move to punish Mexico and prevent them from profiting while everyone else is going broke from the covid bs. I try to avoid AM and United airlines as they are nazis and cannot get out or in the gate on time. I have flown primarily Delta and Aeromexico and I haven't had any air or ground issues with either.


Wednesday 26th of May 2021

Can we have some specifics please? Are these ATC issues, Carrier issues? Should I be concerned with American flight back to DFW?


Thursday 27th of May 2021

@Rich, These issues have to do with the high levels of freedom Mexico currently has to offer. Since it did not turn into a dictatorship like most of the rest of the world they are being condemned by the mysterious ICAO/UN/Whatever you want to call it.


Thursday 27th of May 2021

@Matt, thanks. So we are talking about carriers not air traffic control or airport security. Always fly American myself and they seem to be doing a good job.


Wednesday 26th of May 2021


Specifics the other day on an AM flight from Mexico City:

Take off. Cabin crew ignore several window blinds down in pre-departure checks just before U turning for runway. Seats in recline mode almost immediately after take off (okay cant blame cabin crew for that as still in jump seat, but previous laxness sets precedence).

False advertising. Business class - No Fee Changes (direct AM booking). Online change functionality is not available for domestic flights at present, forced to call call center, will not waive service fee. Follow compliant also declined. ASA are going to take up the case. I will get those 2 beers back!

Small issues but it doesn't surprise me that the rest of the operation is in a state.