MAVCOM and MOTAC reminds umrah pilgrims to be cautious when planning for pilgrimages

5 Jan, 2017

Kuala Lumpur, 5 January 2017:  The Malaysian Aviation Commission (“MAVCOM” or the “Commission”) jointly with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC) would like to advise travel agents offering umrah packages and passengers planning to go on umrah to be cautious when making their umrah travel arrangements.

It has come to both MAVCOM’s and MOTAC’s attention that Ritz Airline Berhad (“Ritz Airlines”) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Marwa Vacations to operate 32 umrah flights (Kuala Lumpur – Jeddah; Kuala Lumpur – Madinah). Based on a news article, Ritz Airlines plans to commence umrah flights in February 2017 with return flight tickets priced at RM2,950.

An entity is required to hold, amongst others, a valid Air Service License (“ASL”) or Air Service Permit (“ASP”) in order to undertake to carry by air or use any aircraft for the carriage of passengers, mail or cargo for hire or reward on a scheduled or non-scheduled journey between two or more places, of which at least one place is in Malaysia. The Commission highlights that as at to date Ritz Airlines does not hold any valid ASL or ASP, either issued by the Commission under the Malaysian Aviation Commission Act 2015 [Act 771] or issued under the Civil Aviation Act 1969 [Act 3]. Ritz Airlines therefore currently cannot charge, demand, receive or collect any payment, consideration, gratuity or benefit derived from the operation of its services from any party; as well as any other activities for the purpose of undertaking to carry by air any passenger, mail or cargo. As such, Ritz Airlines may have misrepresented to the public via the said news article that it is a Malaysian carrier permitted to operate such services.

The Commission has issued a warning letter to Ritz Airlines asking it to stop marketing its services as well as advertising itself as a commercial airline.

Meanwhile, MOTAC is currently investigating Marwa Vacations as the company is not licensed with the Ministry. All tour operating business and travel agency business (ticketing) are required by the Tourism Industry Act 1992 to be licensed under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia. Operating without a license is an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding RM50,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both.

MAVCOM and MOTAC would also like to urge consumers to be extra vigilant when making any flight and travel arrangements to ensure that they do not face any inconvenience in their umrah plans.