KUALA LUMPUR: Putrajaya is demanding an explanation from the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over the downgrade of Malaysia’s air safety rating, said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday (Nov 14).
Dr Mahathir said an explanation for the downgrade from Category 1 to Category 2 was important, as it will allow his country to rectify problems and improve weaknesses.
"We want to know (the reasons behind) the downgrade so that Malaysia can find ways to improve the situation. If they say (we) are inefficient and such, (we have managed and turned) KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) into one of the 20 largest airports in the world,” he said.
“In fact, our company (Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd) was given the responsibility to manage Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (in Turkey), which is not small.”
He noted that Malaysia has also received invitations from other countries to manage their airports, adding Malaysian pilots have been accepted to work in countries such as Indonesia and China.
Dr Mahathir added on Wednesday that Malaysians are known as capable people.
“If our people work overseas, they don't work as unskilled workers but as professionals such as pilots, engineers and architects, and receive the same salary as professionals from Europe.”
The FAA downgraded the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) to aviation regulator Category 2 following a review by the American authorities in April.
As a consequence of the downgrade, airlines licensed by CAAM are reportedly restricted from adding new routes to and from the US.
Earlier, Dr Mahathir was reported as saying that the government would take necessary actions to rectify any weakness in CAAM.
CAAM SEEKS TO RESTORE CREDIBILITY
Meanwhile, CAAM has launched a strategic transformation initiative in the first quarter of this year to restore its image, said its board member Mr Afzal Abdul Rahim.
Earlier this week, he said the plan to restore CAAM’s credibility is ongoing and the initiative will take two to three years.
When asked about the cause of the downgrade, Mr Afzal cited multiple factors.
He noted that CAAM had been transformed into a statutory body in February last year, and faced many hoops and hurdles in order to amend legislation.
CAAM chairman Ahmad Ridzwan Mohd Salleh was also quoted as saying that after being converted to a statutory body, it has been quite difficult to operate due to a shortage of qualified technical personnel.
He added that as a government agency, CAAM had to rely on the Public Services Department for human resources and the Accountant-General's Department on finance.