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Viva Aerobus Expands With New U.S. Markets
Mexican low-cost carrier Viva Aerobus is adding five new routes to the United States. The routes are the first new U.S. markets introduced by a Mexican airline after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) restored Mexico’s safety assessment rating to Category 1. As reported by Ishrion Aviation on Twitter/X, the new routes span from coast to coast.
FAA Restores Mexico’s Category 1 Safety Rating
The FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program is designed to assess a foreign country’s ability to adhere to international safety standards and recommended practices set out by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Under the Chicago Convention – the international agreement that formed ICAO – countries are required to exercise regulatory oversight over areas such as aircraft airworthiness and personnel licensing.
Through the IASA, the FAA periodically audits foreign countries and assigns them a Category 1 or Category 2 rating. Category 1 means that the country’s civil aviation regulator meets ICAO safety standards and Category 2 means that it does not. In May of 2021, the FAA downgraded Mexico’s rating from Category 1 to Category 2. Only a few other countries, including Russia, Pakistan and Venezuela, currently have Category 2 ratings.
Having a Category 2 rating means that carriers from the affected country cannot expand services to the United States or codeshare with U.S. airlines. However, carriers from Category 2 countries can continue operating services to the U.S. that existed prior to the audit. Mexico remained a Category 2 country until the FAA upgraded its rating back to Category on Sept. 14, 2023. This meant that Mexican airlines were once again allowed to add new routes to the U.S. following a two-year pause on expanding services.
Viva Aerobus’ Five New US Routes
Viva Aerobus is adding five new routes to the United States from its home base at Monterrey International Airport in Mexico:
- Denver International Airport, starting in January of 2024
- Austin–Bergstrom International Airport, starting in March of 2024
- Orlando International Airport, starting in May of 2024
- Oakland International Airport, starting in July of 2024
- Miami International Airport, starting in July of 2024
The routes are slated to be operated a few times per week with Viva Aerobus’ fleet of Airbus A320 family aircraft. While Denver and Oakland are new destinations for the airline, it has served Austin, Orlando and Miami in the past. Between 2008 and 2009, Viva Aerobus flew to Austin from Monterrey, Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. Viva Aerobus operated routes to Orlando and Miami during the 2010s as part of a short-lived transborder push.
The airline was set to start flights from Cancun and Mexico City to Miami back in December of 2021, but these plans were thwarted by the FAA’s downgrade of Mexico’s safety rating. Viva Aerobus currently serves several other airports in the United States, including Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport.
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