The reinstatement of Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM)’s safety standards to Category 1 by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is expected to impact the travel and tourism sector positively.
For instance, industry players, such as Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents president Tan Kok Liang, who was quoted by local publication The Star, said the reinstatement would enable “local airlines to tap into the US market and for Malaysian carriers to secure direct flights there”.
He noted that major airlines, including Singapore Airlines, Philippines Airlines, China Airlines and Middle Eastern carriers, with connectivity into Asia, including Southeast Asia, would be able to collaborate with Malaysian carriers.
“The dual-destinations approach with airlines is the best way to tap into first-time American visitors to Malaysia,” he reportedly told The Star.
Another expert, who was highlighted by the publication, said the Category 1 recognition was “necessary” so that Malaysia could attract more international tourists, especially those from the US and Europe.
“We need to maintain the momentum by doing more promotional activities to convince them [tourists] to enter Malaysia and spend here, especially following the reinstatement of the ranking,” Malaysian Tourism Council president Uzaidi Udanis said.
In a statement on 1 October, AirAsia Aviation Group Ltd shared that the reinstatement would open more opportunities for its future medium to long-haul network plans especially to the US, and other Asian countries including Japan and Korea as they will grant the relevant regulatory approvals based on FAA standards.
Currently, AirAsia X is the only airline in the group that operates to the US directly, to Honolulu, Hawaii, through Osaka, Japan.
Additionally, the reinstatement would enhance the group’s “burgeoning” maintenance, repair and overhaul subsidiary, Asia Digital Engineering, by boosting its service for regional and “potentially other international airlines”.
Bo Lingam, its group CEO said the announcement came at the right time, just as the industry was resetting itself after the pandemic with travel demand picking up.
“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,” he added.
Recall that the US FAA downgraded CAAM’s safety standards to Category 2 in 2019 due to its alleged failure to adhere to International Civil Aviation Organisation’s safety standards, including technical expertise and inspection records.
Initial speculations by foreign media of a possible reinstatement were then confirmed by Malaysian Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong on 1 October, stating that all “33 issues” raised by the US FAA had been resolved.