June 3, 2020

The FAA’s downgrading of Mexico’s civil aviation authority to a Category 2 rating after an assessment identified several areas of noncompliance with the minimum international safety standards imposes a number of restrictions on the nation’s air carriers, especially on-demand operators who are the equivalent of U.S. Part 135.

“There is a significant amount of cross-border traffic between Mexico and the United States, and until Mexico restores its Category 1 rating, many Mexican on-demand operators will no longer have access to U.S. destinations,” said Doug Carr, NBAA’s senior vice president of safety, security, sustainability and international affairs.

Mexico’s scheduled air carriers may continue to operate their existing routes, but they cannot change or add to them. In addition, U.S. scheduled air carriers cannot sell tickets to their Mexican code-share partners.

“All on-demand Part 135-equivalents outside the United States can request up to 12 flights to the U.S. each year without holding a foreign air carrier certificate issued under Part 129,” said Carr. On-demand operations making more than 12 flights require Part 129 certification, and under the Category 2 restrictions, they may continue their operations if they present “documentation of historic activity levels between Dec. 25, 2019 and May 25, 2021 to the FAA by June 8, 2021.”

On-demand operators in Mexico who do not hold Part 129 certification are prohibited from flying to the United States until the Mexican civil aviation authority addresses the identified safety issues, and the FAA restores their Category 1 status.

This is not the first time Mexico has been recategorized. It last happened around 2010, Carr said, “and it took about four months to address the discrepancies and get its Category I rating restored.”

Mexico’s Category 2 restrictions do not affect U.S. operators flying to Mexico, but like all international operations, flight permits are often required, so operators should be aware of any changes in this process.

“NBAA encourages Mexico’s operators to work with their civil aviation authority to restore its Category 1 certification, which will alleviate all the restrictions they face,” Carr said.