PETALING JAYA: AirAsia will have only male flight attendants for its flights to Aceh, the budget airline said in a statement yesterday.
Free Malaysia Today reported that this was over authorities in the Indonesian province ordering Muslim female flight attendants landing in Bandar Aceh to don a hijab upon arrival, or face punishment by religious police.
“AirAsia acknowledges the regulation imposed by the authority of Aceh region. We are committed to ensure that our operations adhere to it.
“For the time being, all AirAsia flights from and to Aceh will be operated by male cabin crew,” AirAsia said in a statement.
It had earlier been reported that Muslim flight attendants who do not regularly wear the hijab were skipping the local practice during short layovers, forcing Aceh to issue the new regulations.
“I hope the airlines respect the uniqueness of Aceh where Sharia (Islamic law) is implemented,” Mawardy Ali, who is head of Aceh Besar district which includes provincial capital Banda Aceh, was quoted as saying by AFP.
He added that he hoped to meet with some of the affected airlines this week to relay the message in person.
“We are disseminating this regulation to the airlines through the end of this week. Later, we’ll talk about punishment if we find there have been violations,” Mawardy told AFP.
Aceh is the only province in Indonesia to have adopted shariah law.
Firefly, the other Malaysian budget airline, said it would also avoid any possible infringement of the new regulation by only rostering male and non-Muslim female cabin crew members on its flights to Aceh.
According to The Star, Firefly chief executive officer Ignatius Ing was quoted as saying that the airline is considering adding an additional layer of clothing to the uniforms of its female flight attendants.
“We are still assessing the situation. So, no concrete decision has been made yet,” Ong told the daily.
AirAsia and Firefly are the main foreign carriers operating flights to Banda Aceh.