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Malaysia suspends Shariah-compliant airline

A Malaysian airline that banned alcohol on flights and had its female flight crew members don hijabs has been suspended by the country's aviation authority. It's now under investigation for shoddy service.

Rayani Air may have complied with Islamic law, but it's now being investigated for not complying with aviation law.

On Monday, Malaysia's only Shariah-compliant airline was handed a three-month suspension after a string of last-minute cancellations, delays and a pilots' strike had raised questions about the carrier's ability to offer reliable service.

Rayani Air operates only two Boeing 737-400s, shuttling passengers in Malaysia's predominantly Muslim northern states of Kedah and Kelantan and the eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak. It began operations last December.

The airline forbids the consumption of alcohol on board its flights and only serves food that is halal. Female flight attendants are required to wear hijabs if they are Muslim, or dress modestly and not wear revealing clothing if they are not.

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

Malaysia's transport minister, Liow Tiong, said in a tweet that the country's Department of Civil Aviation would also conduct a safety audit before allowing Rayani Air to fly again.

The suspension was the latest embarrassment for Malaysia's aviation sector. The search is still ongoing for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370,

a Beijing-bound plane that disappeared over the Indian Ocean

with 239 passengers and crew onboard.

Half a year later,

another Malaysia Airlines flight, MH17,

was shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine by a missile, killing 298 people.

And last December, a probe began over a Malaysian Airlines plane that

flew in the wrong direction

for almost an hour after taking off from New Zealand.

cjc/sri (AFP, dpa)

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