Malaysia's air safety rating downgraded by the FAA

Aircraft parked up at Kuala Lumpur Airport
The change means some airlines will have their access to the US restricted. Photo credit: Kuala Lumpur Airport

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has downgraded Malaysia's air safety rating from a category one to category two.

After the change, Malaysia will be in the same FAA category as neighbouring country Thailand, which was downgraded to category two in December 2015.

The downgrade relates to airlines from Malaysia, as opposed to Malaysia Airlines the company.

What Malaysia's air safety downgrade means:

  • The FAA will not allow reciprocal code-sharing arrangements between US carriers and Malaysian airlines
  • Flights operated by Malaysian airlines will be subject to additional inspections at US airports
  • Malaysia-based airlines are restricted to current levels of any existing service to the US and can not begin any new services to the region
  • The downgrade does not affect existing flights

The only Malaysian airline that currently operates to the US is AirAsia X, which flies from Kuala Lumpur to Honolulu, via Osaka.

Malaysia's aviation authorities have said they regret the decision taken by the US.

"In carrying out its duties as an aviation regulator, some shortcomings exist. We wish to emphasise that the assessment only covered Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia's (CAAM) role as an aviation regulator," the CAAM said in a statement.

"Plans are already well underway to address the findings of the audit" with the goal of getting its Category One rating restored."

The FAA said the rating means the CAAM is deficient in areas "such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping and/or inspection procedures."

Other countries classed as Category 2 by the American authority include Bangladesh, Ghana and Costa Rica.