The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has downgraded Malaysia's air safety rating, restricting the country's airlines from adding any additional or new flights to the United States. 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.
An FAA spokesman said that Malaysia has been downgraded to a Category 2 status, which is the same rating given to Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Ghana and Thailand. The FAA cited deficiencies by Malaysia’s civil-aviation authority in areas ranging from technical expertise to record keeping.
The new rating means that Malaysian airlines are restricted to their current levels for any existing service to the United States. Additionally, they can not have reciprocal code-sharing arrangements between US carriers and Malaysian airlines and will be subject to additional inspections at US airports.
Currently the only Malaysian airline route to the United States is AirAsia X Bhd, which is providing flight services from Kuala Lumpur to Honolulu via Osaka.
Officials from both the FAA and the Malaysian government have said they are working together to help Malaysia re-achieve the international standards that would give it the top Category 1 rating. However aviation experts say that having Category 1 status is not easy or quick. They note that
Thailand was downgraded to Category 2 in December 2015 and has since that time has tried unsuccessfully to have its Category 1 rating restored.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said he was not aware of the details of the downgrade and that, "If there is anything wrong with our civil aviation authority, we will take measures, we will correct the situation."