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The Malaysia Airlines flight, bound for Tokyo, had to be returned to Kuala Lumpur airport. 

A Malaysia Airlines flight has been forced to turn back because of pressure problems inside the aircraft despite being in the air for almost an hour, a top aviation watchdog has revealed.

Director-general of the department of Civil Aviation, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, confirmed that the aircraft had returned to Kuala Lumpur International Airport because the correct pressure could not maintained inside the plane.

"It was not able to maintain the right pressure differential for the comfort of the passengers. It is not a major problem," he said.

Malaysian outlet The Star Online reported that the flight, bound for Tokyo, was forced to return its departure airport after taking off at 10:50 local time (0250 GMT) and flying for 50 minutes.

Passengers on the flight were transferred to another aircraft and they departed for the Japanese capital a few hours later.

The incident comes after a dismal year for the national carrier and its safety record following two major aviation disasters. Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared in March leaving all 239 passengers and crew onboard missing.

The downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, over eastern Ukraine left all 298 people on board dead. Pro-Russian separatists in the region have been accused of causing the crash but they deny this claim.

Malaysia Airlines officials could not be reached for comment.