International air cabotage is a practice where a foreign airline is allowed to operate routes within the territory of a country to which it does not belong. This practice is prohibited in most countries, as is currently the case in Mexico.
On December 15, 2022, the Federal Executive presented an initiative that seeks to allow and regulate this practice within the country as long as certain conditions are met such as: (i) receiving the approval of the airports where such routes would operate and the route being strategic for the development of the country. Currently, this initiative is on hold in the Chamber of Deputies.
However, at the end of March 2023, the Initiative was presented to the Mexican Congress, which tacitly promotes international cabotage by establishing a series of sanctions for carrying out cabotage practices (without having the appropriate permit), despite the fact that there has been no change in the legislative process to allow cabotage. Despite the fact that the main purpose of this new Initiative is, according to its explanatory memorandum, to guarantee the sovereignty and integrity of the Mexican Airspace as well as ensure its navigational safety.
One of the provisions proposed is sanctioning persons who carry out cabotage in Mexico without the foreign licensee having the corresponding authorization with a fine of up to approximately MX $2.6 million.
The Initiative also allows the Federal Civil Aviation Agency to, under certain circumstances, may decree the temporary and immediate suspension of the aircraft's operations.
The Initiative also provides for a period of 60 days for the relevant airline to obtain the required cabotage authorization and, if the person fails to do so, states that temporary sanctions will then become permanent.
Finally, the Initiative provides for coordination among the different areas of the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation to avoid clandestine flights and protect Mexican airspace.
If approved, this Initiative, as well as the initiative proposed in December 2022 on international cabotage, will result in important changes in the aviation industry. If you have any questions related to these initiatives or any other topic related to the aviation sector, we will be glad to assist you.
Authored by: Julio Zugasti and Reneé Penhos