The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has downgraded Mexico's air safety rating from 1 to 2, according to Reuters. The downgrade effectively "means that aviation authorities have fallen short on technical expertise, personnel, record-keeping or inspection procedures," according to Reuters. A Category 1 rating means a nation's aviation regulation fits within the standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Reuters writes that the main reason for the downgrade is a shortage of inspectors. In a statement, the FAA said, "While Mexico has been responsive to the FAA’s findings and has made significant improvements in recent months, it was unable to fully comply with all of the international safety standards." The ruling is not specific to any one airline, but rather the government systems in place to monitor the industry.
So what does this mean? The downgrade primarily affects new service between the U.S. and Mexico. Airlines cannot launch new service to or from U.S. cities, and codesharing agreements are prohibited as long as Mexico remains a Category 2 country.
According to the Associated Press, Mexico's Communications and Transport Department is calling the situation an administrative manner, and maintains that air safety in Mexico is up to international standards: "The FAA measure does not imply any decline in the safety of civil aviation in Mexico. Mexico's airlines are safe and will continue to offer high quality service, comparable to the highest international standards."
The downgrade couldn't come at a worse time, from Mexico's perspective. The country has been mired in a long, bloody drug war, primarily along its northern border, and its largest carrier, Mexicana, just filed for bankruptcy protection.
For consumers, the downgrade is likely to cause a little unease, but shouldn't deter people from visiting the country.