You may be forgiven for mistaken this airline as an Irish airline. After all, “Rayani Air” does sound like “Ryanair”, an Irish low-cost airline founded in 1985 and has since grown to become the largest European airline, operating over 300 Boeing 737-800 aircraft serving 31 countries in Europe, Africa and Middle East.
Rayani Air Parking at RunwayRayani Air on runway
Perhaps inspired by Irish businessman Tony Ryan (after whom the company is named), founders Ravi Alagendrran and his wife Karthiyani Govindan could have taken the shortcut by calling (or rather copying) their new airline Rayani Air.
Coincidently, Rayani could be formed from the name of both founders – Ravi and Karthiyani.
But isn’t Malaysia too crowded for another low-cost airline player considering AirAsia, Firefly and Malindo Air are already fighting tooth and nail from a small pool of 30 million populations? Apparently, the Tony Fernandes wannabes clarify it’s not a budget airline but a full service airline similar to Malaysian Airlines.
Rayani Air Founders – Ravi Alagendrran and Karthiyani GovindanRayani Air – Customers Check In At Counter
Both Ravi and Karthiyani think they have found a secret weapon – claiming their new airline as the country’s first “Shariah-compliant or Halal” airline. Launched on December 20, 2015, Rayani Air had hired 350 staffs, including 8 pilots and 50 cabin crew, to fly to 3 destinations with their 2 Boeing 737-400 aircrafts purchased from Neptune Air Limited.
Rayani Air website shows very little information except flights booking for KL International Airport 2, Langkawi and Kota Bharu. Their social media links are not working. Using Langkawi International Airport as its home base, Mr. Ravi claims they would expand to Kuching and Kota Kinabalu next year and hopefully to Indonesia, Philippines, China, Australia and Middle East at a later stage.
Rayani Air Co-Founder Ravi Alagendrran
“Muslim crew members will be obliged to cover their heads (hijabs) and non-Muslim members of the crew are required to dress decently in accordance to Shariah requirements. 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 crew and passengers” – founder Ravi said.
The new airline further claims that it provides 16 business class seats and 128 economy class seats, and all their employees have at least 5-year experience in the aviation industry. Interestingly, Rayani Air is a collaboration between Merdeka Jayabumi Enterprise, an oil and gas company, and Terus Maju Metal, a mining company.
Rayani Air Crew and Staffs with Plane Model
So what can an O&G and mining company do that a specialist Malaysian Airlines can’t to make an airline a success? Of course, it’s always nice to play religion cards once in a while to unite Muslims for a common course – making money. But is Rayani Air really a Shariah-compliant airline to begin with?
That depends on the school of Islam you subscribe to and how extreme you want to go. Saudi Arabia is the kingdom of Sunni Muslims and the guardian of holy city Mecca where Malaysian Muslims subscribe to. However, using Saudi’s standard, Rayani Air girls cannot be considered halal because they didn’t cover 99% from head to toes, leaving the remaining 1% – a pair of eyes – exposed (read: burqa).
Rayani Air Staff Crew with Plane Model and Destination Banting
If ISIS version of Islam is being used as a measurement, Rayani Air isn’t halal at all because not only the airline has non-Muslim staffs, they also fly “kafir” non-Muslim customers. Hence, non-Muslim Rayani Air staffs and non-Muslim customers must be considered second-class employees and customers.
In a nutshell, these non-Muslim staffs and customers should be made to pay Shariah-compliant tax called “Jizya” or else they would be executed and their wives will become Rayani Air’s sex slave. Thus, one can debate until the cow comes home whether the self-proclaimed Shariah-compliant Rayani Air is indeed a genuine halal airline or just a fake one.
Rayani Air – Sample Meal
What about non-Muslim customers who wear too little to meet the halal standard and show lots of flesh and cleavage? Will Rayani Air stops them from boarding and refund them? Will non-Muslim customers be barred from using the airplane’s toilets because they might have consumed pork or alcohol prior?
If you wish to debate further, the Boeing aircraft that Muslim flyers are on is not even halal, let alone Shariah-compliant. Finger and foot prints of Christianity, Judaism, Shinto and Buddhism are all over the 737-400 aeroplane, either in the form of manufacturing, design or spare parts.
Rayani Air Crew Walking in front of PlaneRayani Air Pilot and Maintenance Crew in front of Plane
Rayani Air’s owners – Merdeka Jayabumi Enterprise and Terus Maju Metal – are not Shariah-compliant companies too, not to mention that Najib administration is absolutely not halal considering his government allows businesses such as casino, 4D and jackpot gaming, alcohol, pork, and whatnot. Are corruption and money laundering considered halal?
Slapping the new airline with halal sticker is nothing more than a marketing gimmick to hoodwink Muslims into feeling good about flying with Rayani Air. Customers should thus take the Shariah-compliant claims with a pinch of salt. As with any other new products, flying with Rayani Air should be cheaper and the customer service should be better, until such time when they become profitable and successful.
Rayani Air Crew Walking in CabinRayani Air Crew Directing Customers in Cabin
The consolation – flying with Rayani Air should be safer though because theoretically terrorists wouldn’t target a “Shariah-compliant” airline (*grin*). Still, the risk is on the second-hand planes and its maintenance records. Heck, as long as it’s cheaper to fly with the airline, who really cares whether they’re halal or not, right?