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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories