KUCHING: More than 600 umrah pilgrims had to postpone their trip to the Holy Land this month due to a reduction in the number of flights to Saudi Arabia.
According to Sarawak Umrah and Hajj Agency Organisation (SUHA) chairman Ruzaiman Ghazalee, Malaysia is currently experiencing a sudden increase in the number of umrah pilgrims and is still waiting for flights from airlines.
In Sarawak, he said, umrah operator agencies under SUHA faced the problem involving more than 600 pilgrims who had registered and paid in full for the umrah package in December this year.
“They are among more than 30,000 Umrah pilgrims throughout Malaysia who have also had to postpone the trip.
“These people are still waiting for flight confirmation from airlines such as Saudi Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and some other airlines,” he said in a press conference on the reorganisation of the flight schedule of umrah pilgrims in Sarawak, here today.
He added that apart from the flight issue, the local umrah industry is also facing the challenge of lack of accommodation in Mecca and Medina.
He said this matter is expected to continue until the month of Ramadan 1444 Hijrah, equivalent to March 2023.
However, he said, Suha has tried to arrange for flights for the month of December, including a special charter flight and is still waiting for confirmation from the relevant parties.
“Among other efforts that have been arranged by Suha include using the flight that will be started by the state government through the ‘Kuching Umrah Gateway Programme’ (KUG) which will bring pilgrims directly from Kuching to Jeddah which is expected to start as early as January 2023.
“Currently, we are still in contact with the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) to get confirmation of the flight schedule,” he added.