Mexico to recover U.S. air safety rating next week, president says

(Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Transportation has informed Mexico’s foreign minister that Mexico will officially recover a U.S.-given air safety rating next week, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday.

Mexico was downgraded by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to the Category 2 safety rating more than two years ago, pausing Mexican airlines’ plans to expand new routes to its northern neighbor.

The downgrade was a major blow to national carriers, as U.S. airlines were able to increasingly scoop up market share. Mexico overhauled its civil aviation law, but faced a number of roadblocks in recovering the Category 1 rating.

The FAA carried out a series of audits in the process, wrapping up one in June which Mexican officials described as the country’s “last.”

Minutes from the June audit obtained by Reuters show that FAA officials raised concerns about Mexico’s process for post-accident investigations and for carrying out medical exams for sector employees.

“This is good news,” Lopez Obrador said in a regular morning press conference. “All of the requirements have been met.”

Lopez Obrador said the safety rating had been returned to “the airport,” having in the past said the rating was given to the Mexico City International Airport (AICM), though the rating applies to Mexico’s aviation regulator.

The FAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Kylie Madry; Editing by Andrea Ricci)