Kazi Rahman, who calls himself the “Halal Richard Branson”, wants to fly alongside Emirates and Qatar Airways to the Middle East. If successful, Firnas Airways would be the first Sharia-compliant airline in the United Kingdom. But Rahman has his work cut out for him.
Rahman has bolds plans for running Boeing 787 Dreamliners between the Middle East and London, but for now has settled for a single 19-seater Jetstream plane. He’s paying £8,500/month for that and the plane is just sitting in a hangar for now. The plan is to fly charter and regional routes in the UK for now, then the Middle East within 2-3 years (perhaps I’m missing the math here…).
Rahman wants to fly out of London’s Ashford Airport. I had to look it up…this one is 73 miles outside of town and run by Saudi Arabian businessman Sheikh Fahad al-Athel.
So just what is a Sharia-compliant airline? No alcohol or pork will be served onboard. Furthermore, FAs will dress modestly. Rahman stresses the difference between Sharia compliance and Sharia enforcement:
When you say Sharia compliance, people will take it as Sharia enforcement, which isn’t the case.
But we’re trying to position ourselves to Islamic investors. There’s obviously the halal food and then modest dressing – I don’t believe in exploiting women to get more business.
There will be no alcohol but we will try to use substitutes.
At the same time, he wants to distinguish Firnas Airways from low-cost carriers.
We want to be a premium airline. Not your low-cost Easyjet or Ryanair.
Of course there are regulatory burdens to starting up an airline, which Rahman’s hopes to overcome “soon”. From there, he promises:
What we’re doing will be a game changer.
And I can only say good luck. I’d rather fly a Firnas Air then an airline full of drunk passengers, but I think pork, alcohol, and flight attendant uniforms are the least of Rahman’s worries right now.
As far-fetched as this airline is, I highlight it because Rahman has invested everything into this company, acquired an aircraft, and even painted it in Firnas Air livery. I give him credit for trying, even though I have little faith his airline will ever actually take off.
If you’re in the UK, you can catch a documentary on the new airline tonight at 10:30p on Channel 4.