MALAYSIA NEWS: Rayani Air sparks security concerns

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RAYANI Air shot to the world’s attention last year as Malaysia’s first sharia-compliant airline — but now it is being talked about for all the wrong reasons. A passenger who flew with the budget airline last month has uploaded a photograph of the boarding pass he was issued — a primitive, handwritten note on a basic piece of paper.

And it has now sparked security concerns and the threat of suspension of the airline, which launched last year and took its maiden flight in December. The photograph of Malaysian MP Lau Weng San’s handscrawled boarding pass — for his Rayani Air flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching, Borneo on March 18 — went viral after he posted it on Facebook.

Facebook users were quick to question its legitimacy and point out the troubling lack of a barcode. “No barcode on a boarding pass is a serious security risk. Anyone can print a paper boarding (pass) and walk into the plane,” one Facebook user wrote. The post also roused the attention of Malaysia’s transport department, which warned Rayani Air it would be suspended if it didn’t comply with safety regulations, Malay Mail Online reported. “Yes, it can be a security threat because you can’t read the handwriting,” transport minister Liow Tiong Lai said. He added that airlines “should not use handwriting for boarding (passes)”.

Liow said his office had received complaints about Rayani Air cancelling flights without notice and failing to offer replacement flights, and would monitor the airline closely. Lau said the questionable boarding pass wasn’t the only problem with his flight on March 18 — it was also delayed by eight hours. “I was supposed to depart at 8.20pm. I eventually departed the next day at 4.30am,” Lau told The Diplomat. Another passenger has also complained about his flight being delayed for five days, The Diplomat reported.

Rayani Air responded by assuring passengers it would no longer issue handwritten boarding passes.