Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has downgraded Malaysia’s air safety rating to Category 2, the agency announced on November 11, 2019. The changes come after the FAA audited the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM), in which it found that CAAM does not meet the safety standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), thus the rating was downgraded from Category 1.
Malaysia CAAM held the Category 1 International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) rating since 2003, allowing airlines registered in the country to operate flights to the United States. The new rating means that the local authority is deficient in one or more areas, including technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping or inspection procedures, states the FAA. The conclusion was drawn after the United States-based authority conducted the review of CAAM in April 2019 and presented its findings to the Malaysian authorities for discussion in July 2019.
The new rating means that airlines registered in Malaysia are not allowed to establish new routes to the United States. However, they are permitted to continue existing flights “under heightened FAA surveillance”. As of November 11, 2019, only AirAsia X, the low-cost long-haul subsidiary of AirAsia, operates flights to the United States, with services connecting Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (KUL) and Honolulu (HNL) via Osaka, Japan (KIX).
Other countries included in the Category 2 list are Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Curacao, Ghana and Thailand.
While Malaysia Airlines does not currently operate any flights to the United States, the Malaysian government (the owner of the carrier) is eyeing a sale of the money-bleeding carrier. Not only will it not be able to establish new routes to the US, but also codeshare with oneworld alliance partner American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) , further putting a strain on a possible sale, as the latest Category 2 downgrade does not help in making an attractive package for a potential investor.