U.S. Aviation Authority FAA Opens Office In Mexico, Ambassador Says

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has opened an office in Mexico to strengthen cooperation between authorities and the private sector, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar said Friday.

In September, the FAA said it would work with countries showing early signs that civil aviation authorities are not meeting safety standards.

The FAA downgraded Mexico to a Category 2 safety rating in 2021 and it has yet to recover the top rating. The downgrade means Mexican airlines are unable to open new routes to the United States, hampering expansion plans.

In recent months, Mexico’s transportation ministry has outlined a series of proposals to recover the rating, requesting changes to regulations, budgets and international compliance in personnel licensing, aircraft operations and airworthiness of aircraft.

“While respecting Mexico’s sovereignty, we believe the implementation of the FAA’s recommendations via legislative channels will help our ties in the aviation sector bear more fruit for both countries and help us to be more competitive,” Salazar said in a statement Friday.

A reform to Mexico’s aviation law has been sent to Mexico’s Congress, which is not currently in session.

The reform sent by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s administration would allow “cabotage,” a controversial practice permitting international airlines to operate domestic routes.

Mexican aviation groups have denounced the reform, even as they acknowledge changes must be made for Mexico to recover Category 1.

(Reporting by Kylie Madry; Editing by Sarah Morland and Josie Kao)