Landing of an airplane of the airline Aeromexico La Laguna at Mexico City International Airport.

Gerrardo Vieyra | NurPhoto | Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Administration downgraded its aviation safety rating for Mexico and banned that country’s airlines from offering services to the United States, the agency said on Tuesday.

The decision is causing new headaches for airlines flying from the United States to Mexico. These are popular routes during the coronavirus pandemic as Mexico did not put travel restrictions in place like many other countries did.

Mexican airlines can continue to operate existing services at the lower rating, but cannot add new services or routes. US airlines, meanwhile, cannot sell tickets operated by Mexican airlines with the US carrier’s name. This measure is known as code sharing.

According to an assessment carried out between October and February, the Mexican Federal Civil Aviation Agency fell below the standards of the United Nations civil aviation organization, the FAA said.

Issues identified by the assessment included an insufficient number of inspectors and law insufficient to ensure the regulator’s independence by protecting it from political interference, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The Mexican aviation agency could not be reached immediately for comment.

The FAA said it would work with its Mexican counterpart to upgrade its rating.

Delta Air Lines, which has a code-sharing agreement with its partner Aeromexico, said its flight to Mexico is operating normally.

“For customers who have booked a Delta-operated flight operated by Aeromexico, Delta may reissue their reservation for the applicable Aeromexico-operated flight,” the Atlanta-based airline said in a statement. “Delta apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause our customers and will continue to work with Aeromexico to minimize disruption.”

Aeromexico did not respond immediately.

“The first thing I want is that we believe Aeromexico is incredibly safe, and this is not about Aeromexico,” Delta’s President Glen Hauenstein told a Wolfe Research conference on Tuesday. “This is about the Mexican version of the FAA and about having some of the right protocols.”

According to aviation data company Cirium, more than 21,000 flights are planned between the United States and Mexico this month, a similar number to 2019. Aeromexico has planned 693 flights.