TULUM, Mexico – In a highly anticipated development after more than two years, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is poised to officially announce next week that Mexico will regain its coveted category one aviation security status.
This significant elevation in aviation security level is expected to herald a new era of expanded routes and increased flights for Mexican airlines operating to and from the United States, including those connecting to the thriving destinations of Cancun and the upcoming Tulum airport.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador shared the encouraging news during his Friday morning briefing, highlighting the successful negotiations between the United States Department of Transportation and Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE), which have paved the way for Mexico’s imminent return to category one aviation security.
President López Obrador expressed his gratitude to United States President Joe Biden for his invaluable assistance and affirmed that the formal agreement for this category change will be finalized within the next few days.
In fact, President López Obrador revealed that Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations, Alicia Bárcena, and United States Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, have already engaged in discussions regarding the procedural aspects of this transition.
The Mexican President attributed this positive outcome to the strong and cooperative relations between the two nations, which have been instrumental in facilitating the elevation of Mexico’s aviation security rating from category two to category one.
Initially, Mexican aviation authorities had anticipated that the transition to category one would be a relatively swift process, taking only a few months to achieve. However, as reported in various publications, the United States Federal Aviation Administration identified additional issues within the Mexican aviation industry, which required more time and effort to rectify.
The FAA had downgraded Mexico’s air safety rating from Category One to Category Two due to Mexico’s failure to meet the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards for Category One. This reclassification had placed Mexico in the same air safety rating bracket as countries like Pakistan, Thailand, Ghana, Malaysia, and Bangladesh.
The implications of this downgrade were far-reaching. It not only curtailed Mexican airlines’ ability to add new flights, routes, and destinations to and from the United States but also prohibited United States airlines from code-sharing seats with Mexican carriers.
This shift in aviation safety status had profound effects on the overall competitiveness of Mexico City International Airport (MEX) and the newly established Aeropuerto Internacional Felipe Ángeles (NLU). Furthermore, it raised concerns about potential adverse consequences for the Tulum International Airport (TUY), situated near Cancun, which was gearing up to launch flight services with Aeroméxico Connect, Mexicana de Aviación, and Viva Aerobus, commencing on December 1.
With the anticipated restoration of category one status, Mexico-based airlines, including Aeroméxico, Volaris, and Viva Aerobus, are now poised to introduce new routes connecting various airports in the United States with Cancun and Tulum.
These Mexican carriers have earned a reputation for offering some of the most cost-effective air travel options to Cancun in the cities they serve across the United States. The introduction of new cities and expanded flight options is expected to bolster capacity and contribute to more competitive pricing in what has already been a bustling winter flight schedule to Cancun and the Riviera Maya.
However, it is important to note that Mexican airlines will need to follow a procedural path, which includes securing approvals from the United States Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration and navigating the challenge of securing available airport slots, which are in high demand due to the surge in American travelers exploring destinations in Mexico this year.
The Mexican airlines’ initial opportunity for expansion in the United States market is likely to come through codeshare flights, which are co-branded with their American alliance partners. For instance, Aeroméxico is a member of the SkyTeam alliance in partnership with Delta Airlines, while Viva Aerobus formed a strategic partnership with Las Vegas-based Allegiant Airlines in December 2021.
No matter the strategy employed by Mexican airlines to re-establish their presence and expand their networks in the United States, travelers can anticipate enjoying the benefits of increased competition for flights to Cancun and the new Tulum airport.