A Malaysia-based PIO Hindu couple has started the first Islamic airlines in Malaysia, the Rayani Air. The airline will offer Shariah compliant services including prayers before take-off, providing the ‘halal’ food, No on-flight serving of alcohol or meals with pork and a strict dress code for female flight attendants.
Rayani Air founders Mr. Ravi Alagendrran and his wife Mrs. Karthiyani Govindan, who used parts of their first names for the airline’s name, assured that although they are primarily eyeing the Muslim market, but passengers of all faiths would be welcomed on the flights. “This is not a matter of segregation. We have a target market and anyone wishing to travel in a modest and alcohol free environment will feel right at home… The airline will not allow any pork or alcoholic beverages on board and Islamic prayers will be conducted before every flight for the safety of the passengers”, said the promoter adding, that the Shariah-compliant industry had a huge potential for growth.
The airline promoter also informed that the airline had hired 350 staff including eight pilots and 50 cabin crew and would fly five times a week between Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi, a popular holiday destination at a distance of some 410 kilometres. “Operations will be expanded to Kuching and Kota Kinabalu next year. International flights to Indonesia and the Philippines will be added at a later date”, he further added.
Rayani Air’s fleet has two Boeing 737-400 aircraft with a capacity of 188 passengers each.
Malaysia is about 60% Muslim, with other popular religions including Buddhism and Christianity.
The other Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran already have airlines that comply with the Sharia principles. Women on Iran’s national airline, IranAir, wear a permanent on board hijab, while the Saudi Arabia’s flag carrier - Saudia, does not serve alcohol and bans passengers from bringing it on board.