Malaysian airlines can now expand networks

PETALING JAYA: The reinstatement of Malaysia’s aviation regulator to Category 1 serves as an opportunity for airlines in the country to reach more global destinations, especially to the United States, say airline and aviation groups.

A return to Category 1 would allow Malaysian airlines to expand in the lucrative US market and enter code share agreements with American carriers.

For the Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG), it said it was glad to be involved in the task force that was formed which led to the reinstatement of the top-tiered ranking.

“MAG is pleased to be able to support CAAM by being part of a task force that was formed to identify root causes, corrective action plans, and corrective measures in response to the downgrade in 2019.

“MAG is confident that CAAM, under the leadership of CAAM CEO Datuk Capt Chester Voo and the rest of the management team, will be able to make significant contributions to the development of civil aviation’s safety and security in Malaysia,” said the group in a statement.

The airline group is the parent company of Malaysia Airlines and regional airlines Firefly and MASwings.

Likewise, AirAsia said it applauded the achievement, which opened more opportunities for its medium to long-haul network plans in future.

The airline said the plans include the United States and other Asian countries, including Japan and South Korea, as the countries will grant the relevant regulatory approvals based on FAA standards.

“AirAsia X is currently the only airline in the group that operates to the US directly, to Honolulu, Hawaii, through Osaka, Japan.

“Regaining the category also bodes well for the group’s burgeoning maintenance, repair and overhaul subsidiary, Asia Digital Engineering, as it will boost its service for regional and potentially other international airlines,” the statement said.

AirAsia Aviation Group chief executive officer Bo Lingam said the announcement was timely as travel demand had started to pick up after the pandemic.

“The Category 1 safety rating will not only allow us to expand our future network plans, but also stabilise the country’s aviation industry as a whole.

“A massive congratulations to CAAM for meeting the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) safety standards again and to the Transport Ministry for their continued effort to improve the FAA’s rating on Malaysia’s aviation status,” he said.

Batik Air CEO Capt Mushafiz Mustafa Bakri described the reinstatement to Category 1 as good news for Malaysia and Malaysian carriers.

“It enables Batik Air to expand our services to new destinations, and more importantly, secure the necessary approvals more speedily.

“The return to Category 1 also means that the FAA will remove any safety concerns it may have had, which will allow Malaysia to boost its tourism efforts as countries are now lifting travel restrictions,” he said in a statement.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd said Malaysia’s position as an aviation hub would be strengthened while its network connectivity would increase.

“The reinstatement of Malaysia’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) rating will strengthen Malaysia’s position as an aviation hub and increase its network connectivity,” said MAHB’s managing director, Datuk Iskandar Mizal Mahmood.

“The Transport Ministry and CAAM have put in massive efforts to ensure that Malaysia’s IASA Category 1 rating is reinstated.

“It is truly commendable considering that this was done while the national aviation industry is still dealing with the after affects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The reinstatement will enhance global confidence in the quality of our air navigation services. From the airport’s perspective, this will help in our marketing efforts to attract more airlines to operate in Malaysia, thus increasing the country’s network connectivity and hub potential,” said Iskandar.

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