04/11/2016, 17.02
MALAYSIA
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Sharia-compliant Rayani Air grounded for failing to follow aviation rules

Malaysian aviation authorities imposed a three-month suspension on the carrier for contravening “civil aviation regulations”. Launched in December, Rayani requires Muslim female crewmembers to wear the hijab, offers only halal food, and bans alcohol.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) suspended the country’s first Sharia-compliant airline company.

"Rayani Air has been suspended for three months," said DCA director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman because "They contravened civil aviation regulations.

Launched in December 2015, the company requires Muslim flight crewmembers to wear the hijab whilst non-Muslim crew are forbidden from wearing revealing clothing. In-flight meals are completely halal and alcohol consumption is strictly banned.

In recent weeks, however, the carrier, which operates two Boeing 737-400s, has drawn increasing criticism from passengers and the government due to last-minute delays and cancellations. Its pilots have also gone on strike, further damaging its image.

The company on Monday said in a Facebook post that it was working hard to "to solve our internal matters and get Rayani back on track".

Malaysia’s Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai tweeted on Saturday that the DCA would conduct a safety audit before allowing the airline to fly again.

The "DCA will undertake a full administration and safety audit to determine if Rayani is 'fit' for AOC (aviation operating certificate) after serving provisional suspension," he wrote.

Liow also expressed disappointment at Rayani's conduct despite previous warnings over "poor procedures and service level".

The suspension comes two years after Malaysia faced twin aviation disasters.

In March 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing disappeared over the Indian Ocean with the loss of all 239 people on board.

A few month later, in July 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border, in a missile strike, killing 298 passengers and crew.

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