U.S. downgrades Malaysia safety status putting new AirAsia X route in jeopardy
American authorities downgraded the air safety status of Malaysia, restricting the country's airlines from adding new routes or codeshares to the U.S.
The safety standards of Malaysia's aviation regulator was downgraded to a "Category 2" rating by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the agency said Monday. The move means that the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia does not meet international air safety standards.
The change in Malaysia's status is likely to have little immediate impact on U.S. travelers. Existing codeshares and routes can remain in place, though neither can be expanded until Malaysia regains Category 1 status.
AirAsia X, the long-haul low-cost arm of the AirAsia Group, is the only Malaysian carrier flying to the U.S. The airline flies daily between Kuala Lumpur (KUL) and Honolulu (HNL) with a stop at Osaka Kansai (KIX) with Airbus A330-300 aircraft.
The change in safety status, however, could disrupt AirAsia X's plans to add service to the U.S. Mainland as soon as 2021. The carrier has been planning new service to California’s Bay Area — either Oakland (OAK), San Francisco (SFO) or San Jose (SJC) airports — from Japan with its new Airbus A330neo jets that year.
No U.S. carriers fly to Malaysia, Cirium schedules show.