American Airlines removes code from Malaysia Airlines flights after Malaysia’s safety downgrade

20 Nov 2019 by Michael Allen
Malaysia Airlines A350

US carrier American Airlines has removed its code (“AA”) from flights operated by fellow Oneworld alliance carrier Malaysia Airlines, a spokesperson for American Airlines has confirmed to Business Traveller Asia-Pacific.

Earlier this month, airlines in Malaysia were banned from launching new routes to the United States and codesharing with US carriers, after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) found deficiencies in Malaysia’s aviation safety regulator and downgraded the country to a Category 2 International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) rating.

“In compliance with the FAA’s downgrade of the aviation oversight rating of the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia, we no longer offer codeshares on Malaysia Airlines flights. We are working with affected customers to rebook their itineraries,” the American Airlines spokesperson said.

According to the FAA, with an IASA Category 1 rating, a country’s air carriers can establish service to the United States and carry the code of US carriers. There are only two categories: Category 1 and Category 2. The former means a country meets International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards; the latter means a country doesn’t.

Other countries that hold Category 2 ratings include Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Curacao, Ghana and Thailand, according to the FAA’s website. In February, Vietnam was upgraded to Category 1 status, allowing its flag carrier to sign a two-way codeshare agreement with US carrier Delta Air Lines.

It’s important to note that the FAA’s assessment relates to Malaysia’s civil aviation authority, not to the country’s airlines. Malaysia Airlines has a historically good safety record, though suffered two accidents in 2014 – one aircraft shot down and another disappeared – in which a total of 537 people were killed (the 239 passengers in the disappeared MH370 are presumed dead, since the aircraft still hasn’t been found). Besides that, the airline’s only other fatality was a September 1995 accident involving a Fokker 50 in which 34 people died, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

American Airlines hasn’t had a fatal accident since November 2001, when an Airbus A300 crashed in New York, killing all 260 on board. The airline also lost two planes in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Malaysia Airlines doesn’t fly any routes to the United States itself, but will continue to place its code on “applicable American Airlines sectors”, according to a Malaysia Airlines spokesperson quoted in Malaysian newspaper The New Straits Times. (Business Traveller Asia-Pacific has contacted Malaysia Airlines for comment.)

“Malaysia Airlines will still place its marketing code (MH) on applicable American Airlines sectors. But American Airlines has removed their marketing code (AA) from all applicable Malaysia Airlines sectors,” the spokesperson said.


What routes are affected?

American Airlines did not say which codeshare routes would be affected. By searching on American’s website, it is evident that there are several routes which are likely to be impacted.

For example, when booking a flight on American’s website from Dallas to Kuala Lumpur, the airline’s bookings page only shows the Dallas-Hong Kong segment as operated by American and the Hong Kong-Kuala Lumpur segment as operated by Cathay Dragon. There is also another option, with a considerably longer layover, to fly first from Dallas to Tokyo Narita on American metal, and then from Tokyo Narita to Hong Kong with Japan Airlines, a joint venture partner of American Airlines.

However, there is no option listed to fly from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia Airlines. The flight with Malaysia Airlines is still listed on American’s “Where we fly?” page, but if you select that flight and click “Book A Flight”, the website directs you to book American Airlines-Cathay Dragon and American Airlines-JAL flights only.

“We are working with affected customers to rebook their itineraries,” the American Airlines spokesperson said.

Have you been affected by the removal of these codeshare flights? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below. /

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