More than one way to get into US, AirAsia says after CAAM’s downgrade

Azril Annuar
AirAsia Bhd Chief Executive Officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes speaks during a press conference in at AirAsia RedQ in Sepang November 15, 2019. — Picture by Choo Choy May

SEPANG, Nov 15 — Budget airline AirAsia Bhd said today it is not fazed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia’s (CAAM) downgrade to Category 2 by the United States Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

Group Chief Executive Officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said there are multiple ways to circumvent the downgrade — which disallows airlines from increasing their routes into US — in the event the airlines wishes to expand its flights there.

“Uncle Tony has many ways of getting to the US,” Fernandes said, referring to himself.

“We have an airline called AirAsia Japan. So don’t worry. There’s plenty of options.”

He pointed out that other countries have also previously been downgraded to Category 2 such as Thailand and Indonesia, with Indonesia now coming back even stronger.

He then voiced his confidence that this is a golden opportunity for Malaysia to “reset” and is positive that the CAAM will come back stronger.

“When I started 18 years ago, the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) back then was one of the most respected in the world. I came from the rock-and-roll business and when I met with the DCA I was so impressed.

“I credit the DCA for AirAsia’s success,” said Fernandes.

He also acknowledged the CAAM’s intention on increasing the fees and said that he supports it as long as it can deliver better quality in terms of digitalisation and spending the money wisely.

Earlier this week, CAAM said it is confident of meeting FAA’s requirements in 12 months after it was downgraded to Category 2 recently.

Afzal Abdul Rahim, a member of the CAAM told a press conference that there are 33 outstanding issues out of 300 questions that the FAA had surveyed in April this year touching on regulatory and legislative matters among others.

However, in order to regain its Category 1 status, the FAA must still be convinced to conduct a reassessment exercise on the regulatory body.

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