US downgrades Malaysia's air safety rating

US downgrades Malaysia's air safety rating

Engineers inspect a Malaysia Airlines aircraft inside a hangar
Engineers inspect a Malaysia Airlines aircraft inside a hangar at an engineering complex adjacent to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur on Nov 30, 2017. (Photo: AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

KUALA LUMPUR: The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Monday (Nov 11) that Malaysia's Civil Aviation Authority no longer meets international safety standards and has been downgraded following a review.

The revised rating means Malaysia is deficient in one or more areas under International Civil Aviation Organization safety standards. 

Under the revised "Category 2" rating, Malaysia’s carriers can continue existing service to the United States but are not be allowed to establish new service to the United States, the FAA said.

The FAA's safety rating is based on a country's aviation oversight regime and is an assessment of the country's civil aviation authority.

At present, the only Malaysian airline route to the United States is AirAsia X Bhd services from Kuala Lumpur to Honolulu via Osaka.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia and the FAA did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Malaysia's transport ministry did not have an immediate comment.

A US government official said the FAA would make an official announcement on Tuesday.

The official said the US government was working with the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia and would help the Southeast Asian country achieve international standards that would give it the top Category 1 rating.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said he was not aware of the details of the downgrade.

"If there is anything wrong with our civil aviation authority, we will take measures, we will correct the situation," he told reporters.

The new rating means Malaysian airlines are restricted to current levels of any existing service to the United States. They would also be subject to additional inspections at US airports.

Under Malaysia's Category 2 rating, the FAA will also not allow reciprocal code-sharing arrangements between US carriers and Malaysian airlines.

The downgrade places Malaysia in the same FAA category as neighbour Thailand, which was downgraded to Category 2 in December 2015 and has since tried unsuccessfully to restore its Category 1 rating.

Other countries in Category 2 include Bangladesh, Ghana and Costa Rica.

Source: Reuters/ec

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