October 4, 2023

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Mexico still has “differences” with US over air defense classification, president says

Mexico still has “differences” with US over air defense classification, president says

The United States and Mexico still have “differences” over the reinstatement of Mexico’s homeland security rating, Mexico’s president said Thursday.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded Mexico to Category 2 for aviation safety two years ago due to safety concerns. The decision will prevent Mexican airlines from opening new routes to the United States.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited Mexico on Wednesday, where Mexican officials said the rating change would be discussed, but two intelligence sources cautioned that the rating recovery would not coincide with his trip.

The U.S. wants to make clear that any decision to reinstate Mexico’s security rating is based on technical merits, not politics, those sources said.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told a news conference Thursday that the U.S. was “negotiating” with Mexico about the assessment, and that the shift to cargo planes was another sticking point between the countries.

Lopez Obrador wants cargo planes to land at Mexico City’s new Felipe Angeles airport instead of Benito Juarez airport, but said some U.S. companies are reluctant to move.

“Yesterday we met with the Secretary of Transportation,” López Obrador said. “There are differences of opinion. But these are important issues and we need to come to an agreement.”

Last week, the FAA completed one of a series of audits in Mexico. Mexico’s Transport Minister Jorge Nuno said in a statement Wednesday that the audit was “final,” marking a positive outcome.

Mexico has reviewed compliance with international standards in licensing, flight operations and airworthiness.

The FAA declined to comment on Lopez Obrador’s comments.

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