Rayani Air, the syariah-compliant airline which began operations on December 20 last year, might just go down in history as one of the flight carriers which has clocked in the least mileage since its operation. This comes about as after only 3+ months of operation, they finally rest their wings on April 9 of this year.
The airline which grew in popularity for being the first such airline in our country dwindled in its response when issues cropped up one by one, finally leading to Malaysia shutting them down completely.
Many airlines have encountered their fair share of hiccups, as with any other operation; but even with the blows, most survive to see another day. Rayani Air’s early dismissal from entering the sky once more were caused by numerous factors, here are the possible 8 key reasons which ultimately led to their downfall.
1. Security risks with handwritten boarding passes.
One may not encounter it anywhere else in the world, but only on Rayani Air would it be possible. The airline handed out boarding passes whereby the passengers details were written on with ink. MP Lau Weng San was one of the recipients of the “boarding pass” back in March. He took to Facebook to rant the comedic aspect of the ticket, and it was shared more than a 1300 times.
Even when a handful could see the humour in the lack of professionalism in the flight carrier, Rayani Air still received backlash when transport minister, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai voiced out the thoughts of the majority: “Yes, it can be a security threat because you can’t read the handwriting. If it’s clear, then it’s different, but if not clear then normally that is not be the case. Should not use handwriting for boarding pass, they should have proper boarding pass.”
2. A pilot strike caused much flight rescheduling.
It isn’t the first time that strikes have happened in our country but when service providers are the ones behind it, it causes distress and inconvenience for countless parties. When the pilot of Rayani Air went on a strike, passengers were forced to reschedule their flights, clearly much to their own inconvenience.
A Rayani Air passanger, Siti Nadwatul for instance, told Star Online that she had her flight to Langkawi recheduled 3 times before it finally received a cancellation. She, along with 10 family members, including her father who is wheelchair-bound had no other option but to opt for a bus and ferry ride to their destination. Following this, she noted that she would opt for another flight carrier on her route home.
3. Employees weren’t getting paid.
The pilot wasn’t the only one who went on a strike, for the employees of Rayani Air, too were equally as dissatisfied with their employer back in late April, so much so that an estimate of 416 staff members threatened legal action against their CEO, Ravi Alagendrran and his wife Karthiyani Govindan should they fail to receive their salaries.
The station manager of the airline, Zulkalnain Azdan told New Straits Time Online that the staff also found out that their Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Socso deductions which comes up to RM900,000 was not paid to the organisations since September last year. He also mentioned that getting in touch with Ravi and his wife was a tough thing to do as the couple did not answer their calls.
4. Flight competitors leveraged off their downfall.
When Rayani Air was curing its own set of hiccups, their competitors wisely took control of the situation and leveraged off of it, providing services which Rayani Air clearly found hardship in completing. According to MalaysiaKini, Malaysia Airlines offered the stranded passengers of Rayani Air a chance to rebook their cancelled flights through them at discounted prices. AirAsia followed suit on the opportunity when they offered a 50% discount to all the Rayani Air passengers who had a confirmed flight booking.
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5. They failed to address issues head-on.
When the Rayani Air CEO was summoned for an inquiry by the Department of Civil Aviation in early May, he mentioned that he had fainted due to high blood pressure. When The Star contacted him, he merely mentioned, “Yes, pressure high.”
Whilst it is in no way belittling a medical condition, Ravi had a set of responsibilities to fulfill, with the flight carrier and all its staffs’ fate resting on his shoulders. To the members of the public, his failure to show up reflects poorly on the air carrier as a whole, and the lack of ability to respond to the issue at hand is unfortunately one incident Rayani Air can’t take back.
6. They saw a premature departure in experienced staff.
A ship is only as strong as its crew, and initially, that was what Rayani Air was posed to be. Deputy transport minister, Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi mentioned to The Star that the company had a “fair number of experienced staff” during its proposal to the government on operating an airline.
These experienced members did not stay on for too long as they left the company shortly after Rayani Air took off, and without the puzzle pieces intact, it was hard for the airline to complete the picture to not only paying passengers, but also any potential investors.
7. Instead of earning, they are refunding passengers.
A healthy entity is one which is constantly evolving (for the better) and at the core of operations, earning a profit as well. The airline was doing the exact opposite as they are on the process of refunding passengers who did not get exactly what they had paid for.
The CEO of Rayani Air took to Facebook where he posted a status update mentioning that they are committed in refunding passengers who had cancelled flights and their process of returning the fare will be ongoing at the Shah Alam office, which they see as a priority for their customers. While it is a necessary thing to do on Rayani Air’s part, it is unfortunate that they have reached this stage whereby it would be significantly harder now than ever to cut losses.
8. The customers were downright unhappy.
—and to most, the customers are always right. After all, it is hard to be happy with an airline which is not only unable to take you to your desired destination, but also delays the process with other elements thrown into the equation. The customers were at the losing end, and ultimately their discontentment just adds to the fact that the flight carrier was problem-filled from the get-go.
From the rage of passengers publicly displayed at the airport, to inconveniencing their elderly passengers, it was only time when they would hit the final straw. Should Rayani Air still be able to continue their operations, they would suffer a major setback because of the lack of trust from their passengers.
To Fly Or Not To Fly
Any corporation which does not have a strong foundation would fall apart easily. Likewise, research is a fundamental element that cannot be neglected. Malaysians are avid travellers and we have a host of airlines to choose from to take us to our desired destination, but was there a gap that needed to be filled in terms of syariah-compliant airplanes?
It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that a gap need only be filled if there is one in the first place. After all, isn’t that the reason people are venturing into starting up businesses of their own, to solve an existing problem in the market? Hence, if a legitimate problem does not exist, it is tough to argue why the airline should.