EconomyFinancialHow to increase salaries and number of places in...

How to increase salaries and number of places in these two institutions could get Mexico out of Category 2

The Federal Expenditure Budget Project (PPEF) 2023 contemplates an increase in salaries and benefits for the workers of the Federal Civil Aviation Agency ( AFAC ) and Navigation Services in the Mexican Air Space ( Seneam ), in addition to more seats and new technical and inspector positions, among others, that are proposed 16 months after the country was downgraded to Category 2 by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

According to the proposal sent to the Chamber of Deputies, salary increases are concentrated mainly among Seneam staff, while in AFAC there are minor salary increases, but coupled with a proposal to open more vacancies and new positions .

One of the FAA’s findings was that AFAC “does not have a system in place to ensure that technical personnel receive adequate compensation compared to industry personnel.” For the following year, the annual salary of technical inspectors and analysts technical, for example, will have a rise of 6.7% and 6.8% compared to 2022, and accumulates a growth of 15% in both cases in nominal terms from 2021.

According to an analysis by Expansión , among the highest-ranking positions in AFAC –corresponding to economic zone 1 of the PPEF– existing since the budget approved for 2022, there is an annual increase of around 5% in nominal terms . For places corresponding to economic zone 2, the increase is 6.7% in the same period.

Regarding the salaries of Seneam, the workers of economic zone 1 –where the general director, area directors and unit heads are located– the increase was 4.7% on average, while the positions of economic zone 2 – in which coordinators, controllers and other technical positions are found – they would have an average salary increase of 15.4%.

The adjustments are relevant at the time of recovering Category 1 of the International Aviation Safety Assessment Program (IASA, for its acronym in English), since in the FAA audit there are at least three findings related to the low level of wages and lack of staff .

“To reverse this situation effectively and in a short time, three things are needed: budgetary resources, human resources and technological resources. The three go hand in hand, because without money you do not have the financial resources to hire and keep trained people ”, explains Juan Carlos Machorro, specialist partner in the aeronautical and airport area of the firm Santamarina + Steta.

Another of the FAA’s findings indicates that AFAC does not facilitate the retention of an adequate and qualified number of experienced technical personnel, emphasizing its personnel recruitment strategy.

“AFAC changed its staffing scheme from hiring two inspectors per year to 32 inspectors per year ,” the US authority said in its report.

Since this year’s budget, AFAC posted 359 more positions compared to 2021 , primarily to fill liaison positions, as well as area deputy directors and department heads.

For next year, the budget contemplates the same number of positions, although with new positions , among which 822 inspectors “A” and “B” stand out – a number similar to the number of workers in the liaison position for this year, which there were 801 positions–, in addition to other positions not contemplated in previous exercises, such as coordinator, regional airport commander, division chief and airport commander.

It will be enough?

For specialists, the increase in human resources would be good news, although by itself it would not help Mexico recover Category 1.

“[The budget] is still pending approval, but it would be ideal because they would have higher salaries, it would facilitate hiring, and they would have conditions to complement the reasons for which they were demoted,” says Fernando Gómez Suárez, an analyst in the airline sector. “However, to recover Category 1 they have to comply 100% with all the observations made.”

The FAA audit found 28 findings on aviation safety, including an improvement in the training schemes for technical personnel, the lack of airworthiness guidance material to obtain licenses and certifications, and even the follow-up regarding English speaking proficiency.

For Machorro, technological resources will also be essential for personnel to be able to carry out their duties under the eyes of the FAA. “Air safety is not played with. We have to have state-of-the-art technology and trained personnel; It is a highly demanding task,” he said.

According to estimates by the National Tourism Business Council (CNET), the downgrading to Category 2 has cost national airlines around 2.3 million passengers and approximately 9,200 million pesos .

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