The pilgrims do not only enjoy a speedy immigration clearance, the waiting lounge is spruced up with additional facilities, says CEO
SINCE the launch of the “Route to Makkah” initiative at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) three weeks ago, 20,000 haj pilgrims have experienced state-of-the-art pre- clearance technology at the boarding gate and an upgraded waiting lounge.
As the operator of the country’s main gateway, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) is committed to work with the Immigration Department, Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) and the Saudi Arabian Immigration Authorities in ensuring a seamless travelling experience for the pilgrims.
Among the government officials from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who have witnessed the operations of this pre-clearance immigration process at Gate C16 and C17 was Saudi Ambassador to Malaysia Mahmoud Qattan who was accompanied by MAHB CEO Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin.
According to Raja Azmi, he remains amazed by the lightning speed of the process and said the enhanced service level at the waiting lounge is one of the biggest milestones that the airport has achieved.
“The travelling experience at the airport should be seamless at all touch points. Hence, as a caring host, we took on the role without hesitation to provide that comfortable, smooth and a hassle-free pre-clearance process for the haj pilgrims.
“We teamed up with the Immigration to provide two facial recognition technology-based auto gates for the check-out exit at the boarding gate itself. This is the first time that a country has placed auto gates for this purpose and Malaysians should be proud and laud the move.
“Now, it only takes seven seconds for a pilgrim to clear the immigration process compared to the normal 20 seconds at a normal counter. On top of the auto gates, the Immigration is also providing four manual counters at the boarding gate,” he said.
Raja Azmi added that not only are the pilgrims enjoying a speedy immigration clearance, the waiting lounge has also been spruced up with additional facilities to give a total passenger experience.
“We have allocated dedicated prayer and ablution areas for the convenience of the pilgrims. Ambience wise, we have increased the number of seats and added in greenery for a more refreshing environment.
“The Talbiyah is continuously played in the lounge to prepare the pilgrims for their spiritual journey. All in all, we thoroughly believe that by providing this extra services and facilities, pilgrims will have a memorable experience even before they fly off,” he said.
The “Route to Makkah” is an initiative that capitalises on digitalisation and technology to enhance the passenger movement and provide a more joyful experience to the haj pilgrims by eliminating waiting time and improving travelling efficiency by at least 60%.
For the 2019/1440 Hijrah haj pilgrimage season, almost 30,000 passengers going to and from Makkah are expected to benefit from this initiative.
With the successful implementation, MAHB is also looking to provide the same pre-clearance experience for the umrah pilgrims once it receives the green light from the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.