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Malaysia Aims to Add US Flights After Safety Rating Increase

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia– The US Federal Aviation Administration has raised Malaysia’s air safety rating to Category 1, allowing the country’s airlines to expand flights to the United States after a three-year pause, the minister said on Saturday. Transportation, Wee Ka Siong.

Wee said the move will boost 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 US and code share with US carriers. There are no more barriers,” said Wee, who was in Montreal for an ICAO assembly. “This is good news after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Riad Asmat, chief executive of low-cost carrier AirAsia Malaysia, said it was a “very good start.” He said that AirAsia, currently the only Malaysian airline that flies to the United States, from Kuala Lumpur to Honolulu, will look for opportunities to expand in the US.

The FAA downgraded Malaysia in November 2019 to Category 2 due to non-compliance with safety regulations. The FAA identified deficiencies in areas including technical expertise, record keeping, and inspection procedures.

Under the FAA system, countries are listed as Category 1, which meets International Civil Aviation Organization standards, or 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 inspection methods to ensure effective safety supervision.

He said the FAA was satisfied that problems identified in 2019 had been fixed, but found 29 new problems in its December assessment. Those problems were quickly rectified in the first half of this year, she said, and the FAA has restored Malaysia’s Category 1 rating.

Malaysia Airlines CEO Izham Ismail said the national carrier will resume flight plans with its partners, especially American Airlines, but gave no further details.


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