Idea for ‘Halal airline’ fails to take off

Idea for ‘Halal airline’ fails to take off

Travel industry officials, including those from Islamic countries, have
criticised the idea of creating a special airline to cater to religious
Muslims as “impractical and unworkable” after a report at World Travel
Market (WTM) said such a service is needed.

With an increasing number of Muslims travelling these days, such an
airline could provide halal food, calls to prayer, religious programmes
on the inflight entertainment system and separate sections for male and
female passengers, said the report prepared by market intelligence firm
Euromonitor International for WTM.

“We already have this airline. This report is probably talking about
us,” Nurul Suzainee Abdullah, manager of Royal Brunei, said wryly.

She said there are already several airlines that take into account
special needs of their Muslim passengers so there is little point in
discussing the idea.

“This goes too far. There are other issues about passenger comfort
to talk about,” said Wen Lim, regional head of European sales for Royal

Saudi Arabian Airlines, Sharjah’s budget carrier Air Arabia and
Kuwait Airways are among the companies that prohibit alcohol use and
many airlines from Muslim countries play a pre-recorded journey prayer
during takeoff.


Dimitry Laspas, publisher of the “Tourism Around the World”
e-newsletter, was equally dismissive about the need for an airline
exclusively for religious people because travel matters affect all
passengers irrespective of their religion or beliefs.

“The only relevance I see is that such a new airline will create more jobs. It will be good for reducing unemployment,” he said.

In making a case for a “halal” airline, the WTM report pointed to a budget carrier set up by the Vatican to transport pilgrims.

Laspas said people cannot go about copying what the Vatican does.

“The Vatican is also the world’s smallest country with the biggest army in per capita terms,” he said.

The report on travel trends also said there is an “opportunity” for
building hotels exclusively for Muslim women. The suggestion has been
similarly rejected.

“This is a publicity gimmick,” said Mohammad Al Kahla, general manager of the Coral Deira hotel in Dubai.