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Mexico eyes recovery of U.S. air safety rating in first half of 2022

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Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard speaks as he meets with members of the Venezuelan government and the opposition, to seek consensus on how to overcome the economic and social crises gripping Venezuela, in Mexico City, Mexico August 13, 2021. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

MEXICO CITY, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Mexico could recover its Category 1 air safety rating with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in the first half of 2022, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Tuesday.

The U.S. aviation authority in May downgraded the country to a Category 2 rating, the lowest level. That barred Mexican carriers from adding new U.S. flights and limited the ability of airlines to carry out marketing agreements with one another.

The downgrade was a blow to the administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, which vowed to collaborate with U.S. officials to remedy the situation as fast as possible.

"We are working with that calendar. ... We are on our way to getting Mexico in the first half of next year again to level 1," Ebrard said in a regular government news conference.

The Category 2 rating, according to the FAA, means Mexico lacks necessary requirements to oversee its air carriers in accordance with minimum international safety standards, or the civil aviation authority was deficient in one or more areas.

In July, Mexico signed an agreement with the FAA aimed at recovering the Category 1 rating, which included visits by FAA experts to provide technical assistance and review progress.

Reporting by Raul Cortes and Dave Graham; writing by Cassandra Garrison and Mark Porter

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