The FAA’s recent downgrade of Malaysian aviation authorities’ air
safety rating has disrupted the codesharing relationship between
oneworld alliance partners American Airlines and Malaysia Airlines.
American can no longer put its code on Malaysia Airlines flights, but
the Malaysian flag carrier can continue to codeshare on American
flights. This follows FAA’s Nov. 11 decision to downgrade the Civil
Aviation Authority of Malaysia to Category 2 under the agency’s
International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program.
Under the IASA program, FAA assesses whether regulators’ oversight of
their air carriers complies with ICAO safety standards. Carriers from
a Category 2 nation cannot start or increase services to the US with
their own aircraft, although they can maintain existing services.
Restrictions on codesharing also apply.
Currently, the only Malaysian airline flying to the US is AirAsia X,
which operates from Kuala Lumpur to Honolulu via Osaka, Japan.
American Airlines stopped offering codeshares on Malaysia Airlines
effective Nov. 11, as required by law, and rebooked passengers where
necessary, the carrier said.
Foreign codeshare arrangements on US carriers from Category 2
countries can continue, “whereas the US code on the foreign airline
ends,” an FAA spokesman told ATW. “One needs to look at [this] from a
level of safety point of view. The foreign airlines’ code on the US
carrier maintains a level of safety for their passengers, whereas a US
code on a foreign airline in this case is unknown because of the civil
aviation authority’s noncompliance with international standards
outlined by [ICAO].”
Malaysia Airlines’ codeshare agreement with American “is still in
place, but as a unilateral agreement for now,” a Malaysia spokeswoman
said. Despite the changes, “Malaysia Airlines passengers can still
continue to book and fly to the US on codeshare flights operated by
American Airlines, without any disruption,” she said.
In a 2013 Federal Register notice, FAA stressed that the IASA
assessment “focuses on the ability of the host country’s aeronautical
authorities to oversee the operational safety of its airlines. … It
does not assess the safety compliance of any particular air carrier,
nor does it address aviation security, airports, or air traffic
Further, the policy statement noted that “although the FAA assessment
team typically visits one or more air carriers during its mission, it
does so only to verify the relationship between the carrier and the
country’s aviation safety officials, not to assess the carrier
The 2013 policy statement includes a change whereby a country is
removed from the IASA list if its airlines no longer serve the US or
codeshare with US carriers, and the country’s civil aviation authority
has “ceased interacting with the FAA for an extended period of time.”
There are five other FAA Category 2 countries: Bangladesh, Costa Rica,
Curacao, Ghana and Thailand.