Malaysia Airlines says U.S. codeshare deals may be hit by FAA country downgrade

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KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia Airlines (MAS) said on Tuesday some codeshare agreements with partners on routes to and from the United States could be disrupted, after the U.S. aviation authority downgraded Malaysia’s air safety rating.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded Malaysia’s rating on Monday, preventing the country’s airlines from adding new flights to the United States.

“This may or may not affect Malaysia Airlines’ existing codeshares to/from the USA with several partner airlines, subject to the respective airline’s own assessment/consideration,” state-owned MAS said in a statement.

MAS passengers fly to the United States on partners in the oneworld airline alliance. This includes a codeshare deal with American Airlines, another oneworld member. MAS said it had informed oneworld about the downgrade.

Under Malaysia’s new Category 2 rating, the FAA will not allow reciprocal code-sharing arrangements between U.S. 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 U.S. airports.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) said it hoped to restore a Category 1 rating swiftly. “We are confident we can attain it in 12 months,” CAAM board member Afzal Abdul Rahim told reporters.

He said CAAM needed to address 33 weaknesses found by the FAA, including those related to the technical certification of officers, regulatory gaps and CAAM’s structural issues.

Afzal said CAAM would propose amendments to relevant laws to the government to meet the FAA’s requirements.

Writing by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Louise Heavens and Edmund Blair