AirAsia to crew Aceh flights with men only after hijab rule

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Budget airline AirAsia said its flights to Indonesia's conservative Aceh province will have only male cabin crew after Acehnese authorities insisted female flight attendants wear head coverings.

Other airlines have said they will comply and require female crew to cover their heads on flights to the Shariah-law practicing province.

AirAsia Indonesia's corporate secretary Baskoro Adiwiyono said Friday that the airline was ensuring its flights adhere to regulations.

"For the time being, all AirAsia flights from and to Aceh will be operated by male cabin crew," he said.

Aceh authorities on Wednesday circulated a letter with their demand to several airlines.

The letter, issued by the chief of Aceh Besar district, which oversees the airport in the provincial capital Banda Aceh, said female flight attendants are obliged to wear the hijab in accordance with the rules of Islam and airlines should support the implementation of Shariah law in the province.

National airline Garuda Indonesia and its budget arm Citilink said they "support the suggestions."

"Garuda respects and upholds local wisdom," said its spokesman Ikhsan Rosan.

Aceh is the only province in Muslim-majority Indonesia where a strict form of Islam is mandatory. Public caning is a punishment for adultery, gambling, homosexuality, tight clothing and other behavior deemed against Islam.

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