U.S. Dings Malaysia's Airline Safety Rating

 - November 11, 2019, 1:30 PM

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has downgraded its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program rating of Malaysia from a Category 1 to a Category 2 based on a recent reassessment of the country’s civil aviation authority. Under Category 2, Malaysia-based airlines can continue to fly existing service to the U.S., but may not launch new routes to the U.S. or participate in codeshare agreements with U.S.-based carriers. 

The ruling announced on Monday means that Malaysia either lacks laws or efficient regulatory oversight in accordance with minimum international standards or that its regulator exhibits deficiencies in one or more areas, such as flight inspection procedures, technical expertise, or trained personal.

Malaysia achieved Category 1 status in 2003; the FAA said it conducted an in-country reassessment this past April followed by a meeting in July to discuss the results with the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM).

“This process is an assessment of CAAM and not any individual airline operating inside or outside of Malaysia,” said the FAA in a statement. “With a Category 2 rating, Malaysia’s carriers can continue existing service to the United States. They will not be allowed to establish new service to the United States.”

At present, long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X is the only Malaysian airline that flies to the U.S., offering daily service to Honolulu via Osaka. The downgrade subjects the carrier to additional inspections at Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. Flag carrier Malaysia Airlines codeshares with American Airlines through its OneWorld Alliance but withdrew its North American service entirely, after axing its four-weekly flight to Los Angeles in 2014.

Malaysia’s downgrade today puts it on par with Thailand, which has sat at Category 2 status since 2015. Vietnam regained a Category 1 ranking this past February while the Philippines and Indonesia received upgrades in 2014 and 2016, respectively.