One month after US skies were reopened for airlines flying from
Venezuela, the FAA has now lifted similar restrictions it placed on
Ecuadorean airlines flying to US airports back in 1995.
On Wednesday, the agency raised Ecuador's safety rating -- from
Category 2 to category 1. A Category 1 rating means that the civil
aviation authority of Ecuador has been assessed by FAA inspectors,
and has been found to license and oversee air carriers in
accordance with ICAO aviation safety standards. A Category 2 rating
means the FAA found that the country's airlines did not comply with
As was the case with the Venezuela upgrade --
which came after president Hugo Chavez threatened to ban all US
flights to Venezuela -- the move to raise Ecuador's status could be
seen as at least somewhat political.
Ecuador's upgraded safety status comes as relations between the
US and the small Andean country have been strained over Ecuador's
move to annul a contract held by a US oil company.