Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has demanded the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for an explanation, following its downgrade of Malaysia’s air safety. -NSTP/HAIRUL ANUAR RAHIM.

PONTIAN: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has demanded the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for an explanation, following its downgrade of Malaysia’s air safety rating from Category 1 to Category 2 on Monday.

Dr Mahathir said the government would study the reason behind the downgrade and its impact on the country’s aviation industry.

“If we are inefficient, we have proved that KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) is one of the 20 largest in airports in the world.

“We were even given the responsibility to manage an airport in Turkey, and even invited to manage other airports,” he said at a press conference at a breakfast session with Tanjung Piai non-governmental organisations, here, today.

Dr Mahathir was referring to the Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport managed by Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), which receives over 30 million passengers annually.

The downgrade followed an FAA review of the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM), which was carried out in April this year.

Under Malaysia’s new Category 2 rating, the FAA will not allow reciprocal code-sharing arrangements between US carriers and Malaysian airlines.

The new rating means Malaysian airlines are restricted to current levels of service to the United States. They also face additional inspections at US airports.

Responding to the news, the CAAM acknowledged that there were “shortcomings” in its performance as an aviation regulator, but stressed that plans are underway to address the findings of FAA’s audit.

It said it hopes that the FAA will review its decision within the next 12 months.

Meanwhile Dr Mahathir added that Malaysian pilots were hired by other airlines in China, Indonesia, and other Arabian countries.

“We are known as capable people. If Malaysians work overseas, they aren’t merely maids.

“They are architects, engineers, pilots. They are professionals who receive the same pay as professionals from Europe.

“We will find a way to improve our ratings,” the Prime Minister added.