KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — A total of 284 people from the last group of Malaysian pilgrims returned home safely today, marking the end of the Haj Season Operation 1443H/2022M.

Tabung Haji (TH) chairman Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar said the group of pilgrims arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at about 1.30pm via Malaysia Airlines flight (MH 8351), which departed from Madinah at 11.10 pm (Saudi Arab time) Friday (Aug 12).

"Alhamdulillah, overall, we are very grateful that this Haj operation went smoothly without any major untoward incidents even in the endemic phase of Covid-19. In addition, the weather conditions are also quite hot reaching almost 50 degrees Celsius.

"All 14,305 Malaysian pilgrims and 340 TH personnel have returned home safely through 49 Malaysia Airlines and Saudi Airlines haj charter flights from July 17 to Aug 13," he said in a statement issued by TH today.

In addition, Azman said the national Haj management was also recognised by the Government of Saudi Arabia as one of the best and the pilgrims also received praise for their discipline, knowledge and focus throughout performing the pilgrimage.

The arrival of the group was welcomed by Azman together with TH group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Amrin Awaluddin and TH Haj executive director and acting head of the Malaysian Haj Group Datuk Seri Syed Saleh Syed Abdul Rahman.

Meanwhile, Amrin said TH will always strive to improve services to pilgrims and the initial preparations for next year's Haj season operations (1444H/2023M) will be implemented immediately based on the evaluation of this year's operations.

He said TH at the beginning of this year, had estimated the cost of performing Haj for Muassasah pilgrims at RM25,540 per person, but the actual Haj cost per Muassasah pilgrim has increased to RM28,632.

"Among the cost increase factors that are beyond TH's control is the cost increase for existing services, additional charges for new facilities provided during Masyair (movement of pilgrims from Arafah and then onwards to Muzdalifah and Mina, which is the culmination of haj rituals) including the facilities provided in Arafah and Mina, such as tents and toilet facilities, meals and the use of new buses in Saudi Arabia.

"With the increase in the cost of Haj this year, Muassasah Haj pilgrims category B40 received Haj Financial Assistance amounting to RM17,652 per person (62 per cent of the Hajj cost), while non-B40 Muassasah Haj pilgrims received Haj Financial Assistance of RM15,652 per person (55 per cent of the cost haj)," he said.

According to him, the Haj fee for Muassasah B40 pilgrims is RM10,980, while non-B40 is RM12,980 per person.

He said that for the Haj season of 1443H/2022M, the total amount of Haj Financial Assistance is RM185.7 million and TH will continue Haj Financial Assistance for the next year through a targeted approach to ensure that it is fully utilised by those in need.

In the same statement, TH also expressed its appreciation for the Saudi Arabian Government's willingness to choose Malaysia in making the Immigration Pre-Departure Programme, known as the ‘Makkah Route’ a success, to facilitate the journey of pilgrims.

"TH also greatly appreciates the cooperation provided by the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia (Kuala Lumpur), the Malaysian Customs and Immigration Department, the Royal Malaysia Police, Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, as well as various other agencies in making this year's haj operations a success," the statement read. — Bernama