Options to expand to US still available, says AirAsia

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia Bhd says there are still many ways the budget carrier could expand its flight offerings to the United States, following the setback to the Malaysian aviation authority this week.

On Monday, the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) downgraded the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) from Category 1 to 2, which means Malaysian carriers will not be allowed to set up new routes to the United States.

AirAsia group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said there were ways for the airline to get past the downgrade.

“Whatever is in operation is in operation. We have many ways of getting to America.

“We have an airline, AirAsia Japan. So don’t worry, there are plenty of options to expand into America, ” he was reported as telling a press conference at the company’s headquarters RedQ in Sepang yesterday.

Fernandes also noted that other countries such as Indonesia, which had previously been downgraded to Category 2, rebounded.

FAA downgraded Indonesia in 2007 before it regained its Category 1 status in 2016.

Fernandes expressed confidence that CAAM, which was formerly the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), could rise above this setback stronger than ever.

“We should not be negative. We should be creative and put our differences aside and work hard and be the best.

“I have no doubt that Malaysia will come out stronger from this, given the right people have the chance to be the best, ” he said.

The Malaysian tycoon recalled that when he started 18 years ago, the DCA back then was one of the most respected in the world.

“When I met with the DCA, I was so impressed, ” he added.

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