From Lan Sluder

It turns out that Belize, and its airlines Maya Island Air and Tropic Air, are in bad company -- some 20 countries that do not meet basic U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or U.N. international safety requirements. That is why Maya Island and Tropic recently had to cancel their popular flights to Flores. Specifically, Belize is among only about 20 countries in the world that do not meet basic FAA safety standards for airlines, and therefore Belizean airlines cannot fly into countries, such as Guatemala , Mexico and the U.S., that do meet those standards.

The FFA categories are based on rules developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations affiliate based in Montreal. The FAA has, since the early 1990s, dispatched teams of inspectors to nations whose airlines fly (or intend to fly) to the U.S. The FAA then places the countries in one of two groups: Category 1, meaning they are in compliance with minimum standards set by ICAO, or Category 2, which means they fall below the mark.

Belize is as yet only in the Category 2 status, and because of that Belize carriers cannot fly into any Category 1 country, including Guatemala and the U.S. and Mexico. Category 2 country carriers can fly into countries that also are category 2: Honduras is Category 2, and Maya Island is currently flying into Honduras.

There are currently around 20 countries falling into Category 2. Besides Belize, these include Honduras and Nicaragua in Central America. Some of the rest are in Africa (such as Gambia), South America (such as Paraguay) and Asia (such as Indonesia).

An informative letter from B. Flores in Amandala newspaper ( suggests that it may be some time before Belize, and therefore Maya Island and Tropic, are in compliance, on the Operations side, with rules pertaining to FAA Category 1 minimum safety requirements.

So, bottom line, until the Belize government and also Maya Island and Tropic, get their act together, forget about flying any Belizean airline into Flores, not to mention to destinations like Mexico, Costa Rica or Panama,

--Lan Sluder