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Malaysia’s first Islamic-compliant airline, Rayani Air, begins operations

Storyline:Business, National News

Malaysia’s first Islamic-compliant airline, Rayani Air, began operations Sunday with its maiden flight taking off from the capital Kuala Lumpur to the resort island of Langkawi, local media reported.

In-flight meals served on board its flights are completely halal, with alcohol consumption strictly prohibited.

Female Muslim flight crew are required to wear headscarves while non-Muslim crew are to be decently dressed, managing director Jaafar Zamhari told reporters.

There will also be recitation of prayers before takeoff.

“We are the first Malaysian airline to be sharia-compliant based on guidelines by relevant authorities. We are proud of this,” Jaffar was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper.

“The sharia-compliant aspects will be refined as time goes by,” he said.

There are already other sharia-friendly carriers operating around the world, and U.K.-based Firnas Airways is planning to offer similar flights next year, according to a Bloomberg news agency report.

Under the concept of halal – meaning “permissible” in Arabic – pork and its by-products, alcohol and animals not slaughtered according to Islamic procedures are all “haram” or forbidden.

Halal standards also apply to products such as cosmetics, which may contain animal-derived ingredients, and the conditions under which they are prepared and stored.

Muslim-majority Malaysia has long practiced a moderate form of Islam, but conservative attitudes are rising.

A company recently introduced halal bottled mineral water in Malaysia, and Islamic speed dating sessions – where single women are chaperoned – have been embraced by some.

A halal convention in Kuala Lumpur earlier this year, which drew thousands of delegates and hundreds of exhibitors, showcased products ranging from food and cosmetics to collagen produced from yaks in Tibet.