Malaysia Airlines chief executive officer Peter Bellew said its main shareholder, Khazanah Nasional Bhd, will undertake a feasibility study before launching the new the airline sometimes in 2019. (Pic by NURUL SHAFINA JEMENON)

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airlines Bhd’s newly-rebranded “Project Amal”, which caters specifically for haj pilgrims to Mecca, will be in full swing come 2019.

Project Amal was previously known as Project Hope and was projected as the world’s first airline to cater specifically and only to haj pilgrims to Mecca.

The new charter airline will also be registered as a separate entity, boasting a different logo, colour scheme and staff.

“We have already appointed Project Amal management team and is currently in the process of getting its Air Services Licence (ASL) and subsequently its air operator's certificate (AOC),” said Malaysia Airlines chief executive officer Peter Bellew at a special media briefing here, yesterday.

Bellew said Malaysia Airlines’s main shareholder, Khazanah Nasional Bhd, will undertake a feasibility study before launching the new the airline sometimes in 2019.

“It is just good governance for us to conduct this feasibility as unfortunately there are no ‘roadmaps’ on how to undertake and airline specifically for haj pilgrimages before,” he said.

He added that there was significant interest from new investors wanting to invest into Amal, but did not divulge further than that.

“We have seen our largest number of pilgrims yet with over 40,000 allocations from the Saudi Arabia goverment this year. Of that, we have carried some 30,000 pilgrims this year and that has been the largest number of pilgrims we have moved yet.”

Bellew said Malaysia Airlines, alongside budget carrier AirAsia Bhd, is currently engaging with Shanghai Airport Authority in regards to flight delays and cancellations coming out from the Shanghai Pudong International Airport.

“It is not just us who have been experiencing significant problems over in Pudong, AirAsia as well. We believe rather than dealing with Air Traffic Control on our own, we rather take on a national approach and things are very much still in discussions.”

Bellew said the final quarter of the year is “looking good” in terms of yield recovery.

“We are expecting some 10 to 15 per cent of passengers increase in our international routes, excluding Asean next year. We have seen the Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Australian routes are doing well as well as massive recovery from Singapore.

“We do expect this trend to sustain and would probably increase once we add on more widebody aircrafts into our fleet,” he said.

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