American Flyers Affected by Malaysian Aviation Authority Downgrade
(Flyer Talk) – American Airlines flyers traveling on a codeshare ticket with Malaysian Airlines must change their itinerary before travel after the Federal Aviation Administration downgraded the nation’s civil aviation safety assessment. The entire nation has a “Category 2” rating effective Monday, November 11, 2019 – meaning airlines from the nation can no longer codeshare with American carriers.
If you have an American Airlines flight number for a flight operated by Malaysian Airlines, you will be forced to make a travel decision prior to boarding. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration announced the International Aviation Safety Assessment downgrade of the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia to Category 2.
Although the change does not affect any individual airline, it will change rules for how Malaysian carriers operate in the United States. Flyers will feel the effects in two ways: codeshares will no longer be allowed with carriers based in the Asian country, and Malaysian airlines are not allowed to expand service to the United States.
WHY WAS MALAYSIA DOWNGRADED TO CATEGORY TWO?
In 2003, The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) was given a “Category 1” grade by the FAA, the highest a nation can receive. The rating is based on how closely a foreign aviation authority follows safety standards set by the United Nations’ aviation oversight body, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
According to the FAA, the guidelines for maintaining a Category 1 classification are clear. “In order to maintain a Category 1 rating, a country must adhere to the safety standards of ICAO, the United Nations’ technical agency for aviation that establishes international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance,” the agency writes.
However, the FAA determined that CAAM was “deficient in one or more areas” of aviation safety standards. While they did say where CAAM fell short, it may have included “technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping, and/or inspection procedures.” The assessment was completed in April 2019, with discussions about the results taking place three months later.
As a result, all current codeshare tickets aboard a Malaysian carrier are no longer valid. According to View from the Wing, American Airlines is forced to end all codeshare operations with Oneworld partner Malaysia Airlines effective Nov. 11, 2019 – the day of the ruling.
ARE U.S.-BASED FLYERS AFFECTED BY THE CATEGORY CHANGE?
Under the ruling, little changes for flyers based in the United States. Current operations by Malaysian airlines are allowed, but carriers bearing the nation’s flag cannot expand operations until CAAM returns to “Category 1.” Currently, one Malaysian carrier operates a single route to the United States: AirAsia X, with one flight between Kuala Lumpur and Honolulu through Osaka.
Malaysia Airlines does not operate any flights directly to the United States, but they are a codeshare partner with American Airlines. Flyers who currently hold a codeshare ticket on Malaysian via American Airlines are given two options: request a rebooking aboard another Oneworld partner, or shift their booking to Malaysian Airlines.
“Customers will be offered the same itineraries,” an American Airlines spokesperson told View from the Wing. “If the customer wishes to fly on another carrier, we will work to accommodate the customer on other airlines including our partners such as Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon.”
FlyerTalk reached out to American for comment and Senior Corporate Communications Manager Andrea Koos had this to say: “In compliance with the FAA’s downgrade of the aviation oversight rating of the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia, we will no longer offer codeshares on Malaysia Airlines flights effective today. We are working with affected customers to rebook their itineraries.”
SHOULD I CHANGE MY TICKET TO MALAYSIAN AIRLINES OR REBOOK MY FLIGHT?
While the situation does affect a small number of flyers, the biggest change may be how many American AAdvantage miles flyers earn from the shift. If you change from the American codeshare ticket to a Malaysia Airlines ticket, your mileage and elite qualifying dollar earnings are based off the Malaysia Airlines earning chart. If you shift to another carrier, earning miles will depend on if your ticket is booked as an American codeshare, or directly on that airline’s ticket number.
Only flyers flying on an American codeshare ticket with Malaysia Airlines are affected. All others may continue their travels as normal.
Although the downgrade is a setback, it may only be a temporary hit for the nation. According to Reuters, the FAA will work with CAAM to bring the nation back to Category 1 status.