Mexico’s domestic aviation industry in shambles


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dated: 2022-11-25 16:54:50 .

MEXICO CITY (AP) – Mexico’s domestic aviation industry is in shambles, plagued by safety concerns, a downgrade by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and vandalism.

Just this week, travelers missed connecting flights after thieves cut fiber optic cables leading to Mexico City’s airport, forcing immigration officials to revert to using slow paper forms.

Wednesday’s internet outage came nearly a month after aviation and transportation authorities were forced to suspend medical, physical and license renewal exams until 2023 because the Department of Transportation’s computer systems were hacked.

Things only got worse after a near collision between two planes at the Mexico City airport on May 7th. Authorities said one of the airport’s main terminals was sinking and urgent work was needed to shore it up.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s response was to propose allowing foreign airlines to fly on domestic routes. But the security cuts — the FAA downgraded Mexico from Category 1, which most countries have, to a lower Category 2 in 2021 — are preventing Mexican airlines from opening new routes to the United States.

As a result, struggling Mexican airlines face domestic competition and lack access to new international routes. Experts say all this looks like a disaster for domestic aviation, a sector on whose development López Obrador has placed special emphasis.

“It’s not very encouraging for investment or the prospect of returning to Category 1 in the short to medium term,” aviation expert Rodrigo Soto-Morales wrote in a21, referring to the internet outage and hacking attacks.

Authorities said the Mexico City airport’s internet cables were cut by thieves who mistakenly thought the fiber optic cables were copper for sale. They emphasized that it happened outside the airport perimeter, but in fact it was a cable line leading directly to the airport less than a mile away.

Rogelio Rodriguez Garduño, an aviation expert who teaches aviation law at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said the events reflect a decades-long decline in Mexico’s aviation regulations. Unlike most countries, Mexico does not have an independent aviation authority.

“If something goes wrong, they investigate themselves and say they are not responsible,” Rodriguez Garduño said.

It does not bode well for López Obrador’s promise to regain Category 1 security.

“It seems possible that this is a process where we are going backwards,” Rodriguez Garduño said.

Consider the May 7 incident when a Mexican plane was allowed to land on a runway from which another plane was supposed to take off. They came within a few hundred meters of each other.

The only person who apparently fired a shot due to the near miss was a crew member of the other plane, who recorded the incident on his cell phone, accompanied by the words “No, no, no” and a phrase that read something like “unbelievable”.

“The problems we’re seeing with air traffic control, for example, where planes have almost collided … the failure of the immigration system, problems with training and maintenance oversight, licensing, that’s a recurring thing that I didn’t have yesterday with this.” government,” said Rodriguez Garduño, “although this government has not taken the necessary steps either.”

It’s all an odd position for a president who has put so much emphasis on the airline industry that one of his administration’s biggest projects has been building a new airport in Mexico City to relieve the congested old terminal.

López Obrador has asked the military to offer civilian domestic flights and has publicly expressed his desire for a state-owned airline in Mexico. But the president isn’t spending money on the independent regulators many say are needed to keep things safe.

There have been at least 17 incidents of ground warning systems for aircraft approaching Mexico City airport over the past year. The International Air Transport Association, which represents 290 airlines, has written to Mexico’s air navigation services, expressing concern about the poor outlook.

“Mexico City needs an autonomous agency with a legal status that guarantees independence,” Rodriguez Garduño said.

The Associated Press


Mexico’s domestic aviation industry in shambles

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