The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has upgraded Malaysia’s aviation safety rating to Category 1, allowing carriers in the country to expand flights to the United States after a three-year hiatus, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday. Transport Wee Ka Siong.
Wee said the move would bolster tourism and economic growth in Malaysia, which opened after pandemic lockdowns in April.
“With the return to Category 1, our airlines can now mount new flights to the United States and share codes with American carriers. There’s no barrier now,” said Wee, who was in Montreal for an ICAO assembly. “This is good news after the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Riad Asmat, CEO of low-cost airline AirAsia Malaysia, said it was a “very good start”. He said AirAsia, currently the only Malaysian carrier that flies to the United States – from Kuala Lumpur to Honolulu – will seek opportunities for expansion in the United States.
The FAA lowered Malaysia’s rating in November 2019 to Category 2 due to failure to meet safety standards. The FAA has identified gaps in areas such as technical expertise, record keeping, and inspection procedures.
Under the FAA system, countries are listed either in Category 1, which meets International Civil Aviation Organization standards, or in Category 2, which does not meet the standards.
Wee told an online press conference that the downgrade prompted Malaysia to restructure its Civil Aviation Authority and make various efforts to strengthen its aviation workforce, documentation processes and methods. inspection to ensure effective safety oversight.
He said the FAA was satisfied that the issues identified in 2019 had been fixed, but found 29 new issues in its December assessment. Those issues were quickly rectified in the first half of this year, he said, and the FAA reinstated Malaysia’s Tier 1 classification.
Malaysia Airlines CEO Izham Ismail said the flag carrier would resume flight plans with its partners, particularly American Airlines, but did not elaborate.