UPDATE (12:48 AM): The FAA has officially announced the downgrade. More details here.
ORIGINAL STORY (12:24 AM):
A report by Reuters claimed that the U.S Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has downgraded the safety rating for air safety in Malaysia. Citing several unnamed sources, the move has yet been announced by FAA itself although the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) has officially confirmed it through a press release.
According to the report, Malaysia has now been downgraded from Category 1 to Category 2 under its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program. In general, the IASA focused on the country’s ability to withhold the international standard of aviation safety rather than the safety capabilities of individual air carriers, airports, or air traffic services.
In other words, the downgrade might be related to how CAAM perform as the national regulator and this is something that has been generally admitted by the agency in its press release. Nevertheless, there might be some significant effect on Malaysia-based airlines.
For example, Malaysian carriers are not able to provide new services to and from the U.S, even via codeshare with US carriers. While Malaysia Airlines might have a codeshare agreement with US carriers, only AirAsia X that operates flight to the US but even then, its flight to Honolulu was done via Osaka.
Meanwhile, CAAM has also stated that it has begun making organizational and operational changes after receiving the assessment by the FAA. It seems that the changes that CAAM plans to implement might be quite significant as the same press release has also announced the departure of its CEO, Ahmad Nizar Zolfakar.
Ultimately, CAAM is already working to have Malaysia’s Category 1 status to be reinstated as soon as possible and has asked the FAA to perform a re-evaluation within the next 12 months. For the meantime, let’s hope the impact on Malaysian carriers and travellers would be as minimal as possible.