Photo: Two airport workers walking in front of an Air Asia plane on the tarmac at a Kuala Lumpur airport on June 27, 2019. Farrel Zafran FG/Shutterstock

Islamic Lifestyle

Malaysia’s Air Asia mulling hajj and umrah, other Muslim-friendly travel services

Malaysia-based Air Asia says it aims to start a service to cater to hajj and umrah pilgrims.

The low-cost airline said it aims to “offer the full suite of services required”, according to its 2019 annual report filed with Bursa Malaysia on Wednesday (July 29).

“Moving forward, we are actively assessing the prospects of a number of products that cater to niche travel. For example, we aim to launch Muslim-friendly services including packages to perform the Haj and Umrah,” said the company.

These services include travel advisory, obtaining a visa, booking accommodation and flights.

Air Asia added that to meet the needs of Muslims on other travels it can also help them with services such as identifying halal restaurants.

The airline said that once its hajj and umrah packages “take off”, it will offer “similar services for other pilgrimages”, without specifying what those others might be.

On the dedicated pilgrimage flights, Air Asia will compete with Malaysia Airlines’ own hajj and umrah service, Amal, that launched in February 2019. At the time of the launch, Amal CEO Hazman Hilmi Sallahudin said the specialised charter service for hajj and umrah was expected to account for 10-15% of the airline group’s revenue over the next two years, up from 5% at the time.

Air Asia carried 51,559,070 passengers in 2019, up 16% from 44,437,381 in 2018. As a Group, the company made a loss of 283 million ringgit last year and another loss, of 953 million ringgit in the first quarter of this year. The airline attributed its Q1 loss to the COVID-19 outbreak that led to a plunge in demand for air travel.

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