July 2, 2014

Flying to and within Mexico just got much less restrictive for U.S. and foreign-based operators flying aircraft listed on a charter certificate but conducting private, non-revenue operations to Mexico.

On June 18 – effective retroactively as of June 3 – the Mexican aviation agency, Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil (DGAC), made changes to previous rules put in place on April 7 of this year. The new rules clarify that operators with aircraft listed on a charter certificate are once again allowed to operate those same aircraft to Mexico as private, non-revenue flights. NBAA, the FAA and other industry groups expressed great concern following the restrictions imposed in April, which effectively prevented any aircraft placed in a charter management company structure from operating privately in Mexico. The restrictions, which were enacted to prevent cabotage, were put in place following a high-profile accident.

“We are pleased that the Mexican authorities lifted these restrictions and restored a proven system that allows for the safe monitoring of general aviation operations while providing operators the flexibility of travel that is so important to business aviation,” said Peter Korns, NBAA operations specialist. Korns notes, however, that it is the responsibility of operators to file accurate flight plans, Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) submissions and permit requests, and to operate in Mexico in accordance with the laws governing cabotage.

Operators flying to Mexico should be aware that the language in the new June 3 circular continues to restrict aircraft that enter Mexico with a private, non-revenue permit from operating as a charter while in the country. Mexican authorities can impose sanctions or detain the aircraft if such aircraft are discovered operating as a charter while in Mexico.

Additionally, the DGAC will now be using a new database to help in tracking all flight legs – including flight plans, crews and passenger information – to make sure that the flights are compliant with the declared type of flight.

Although it is possible to change passengers on a particular flight leg, operators are encouraged to notify Mexican airport authorities of any manifest changes at least 24 hours in advance, if possible, in order to avoid possible delays. It is also important to note that the regulatory changes are quite new and inconsistencies in interpretation may exist at certain airports.