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U.S. FAA to work with countries before downgrading aviation safety ratings

WASHINGTON, Sept 26 (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Monday it will work with countries when it sees early indications that civil aviation authorities are not meeting safety standards.

The FAA previously would offer assistance only after the country had been downgraded. Now the agency will be able to work with a country to address developing safety risks before downgrading it.

The FAA said if it notifies a country of a safety concern it will limit direct service and code sharing by foreign operators to current levels as it reviews whether to issue a downgrade.

In May 2021, the FAA downgraded Mexico's aviation safety rating, an action barring Mexican carriers from adding new U.S. flights and limits the ability of airlines to carry out marketing agreements with one another.

Over the objections of the Mexican government, the FAA downgraded Mexico - one of the most common international destinations for U.S. air travelers - from a level called Category 1, which signifies compliance with international standards, to Category 2, the lowest level.

Mexican authorities had promised that regaining the rating would be a "quick and easy process," but that has not been the case. The FAA did not immediately comment Monday on the status of Mexico's safety rating.

In June, Mexico said it hoped to return to Category 1 in the coming months, after seven meetings with FAA officials including a review in June.

Earlier this month, Aeromexico (AEROMEX.MX) CEO Andres Conesa said its expansion plans depend on the FAA revising its rating for Mexico that the airline noted prohibits Mexican airlines from opening new routes to the United States. "The damage done by that is significant," Conesa said.

The FAA said Monday that 90% of countries rated achieved Category 1 and meet international air safety standards.

This article originally appeared on Reuters

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