KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia Airlines has launched the world’s first service dedicated for Muslim pilgrims traveling for Hajj and Umrah from countries in Southeast Asia, APEX reported.
“We see big potential for the Hajj and Umrah market and we have the added advantage of having years of experience providing such a service,” said Malaysia Aviation Group CEO, Captain Izham Ismail.
“The aim is to establish an air transport system and infrastructure dedicated for Hajj and Umrah for Muslims not just from these three countries but also other ASEAN countries,” said Ismail.
The Kuala Lumpur-based carrier said the service, branded as Amal, will be the world’s first to offer dedicated pilgrim-centric flights for Muslim passengers.
Malaysia Airlines’ dedicated pilgrim flights, previously known as Project Hope, have been operating since October 2018, with three flights per week to Jeddah and Medina using Airbus A380-800s.
“It is a privilege to be part of our pilgrims’ remarkable journey and we envisage Amal to be the best pilgrimage carrier in the world through an enriched onboard experience,” said Hilmi Sallahudin.
“The establishment of Amal is also hoped to alleviate the overall quality of services in the pilgrimage market which is often associated with non-premium services. As Saudi Arabia aims to quadruple the number of pilgrims to 30 million by 2030, Amal is honored to play a part in making Saudi Vision 2030 a great success.”
Makkah and Madinah are the ultimate destination of Hajj when as much as three million Muslims visit both cities to conduct the rituals.
In a report published last month, the General Authority for Statistics (GaStat) in Saudi Arabia estimated that the total number of pilgrims visiting Makkah, Islam’s holiest city, in the last 25 years reached 53,928,358.
Remarkably, during the past 25 years, the number of pilgrims exceeded three million pilgrims per year only once, while their number exceeded two million pilgrims 12 times.
During the last ten years, the number of pilgrims was 23,834,151. Interestingly, the highest number of pilgrims was registered in 2011 (1433H) when 3,161,573 performed the annual pilgrimage.
On the other hand, during two seasons, their number fell below two million, with the lowest number of pilgrims recorded in 1995 (1415H) which brought 1,781,370 pilgrims.