COVID-19 restrictions may have halted their original launch plan, but Malaysia-based Ikhlas is now gearing up to take off with Umrah packages as travel restrictions are lifted and Saudi Arabia begins to recover. to open.
Founded by Malaysia’s largest airline by fleet size, AirAisa, and named after Al-Ikhlas, the 112th chapter of the Quran, Ikhlas was launched in Malaysia in March 2020.
Reflecting on the company’s beginnings in the midst of a pandemic, Ikhlas Kamarudin, director of Ikhlas, told Salaam Gateway that “it was a bit difficult”. Adapting to new market conditions, the team focused on implementing Qurban, Zakat and other Sharia-compliant lifestyle services including Aqiqah, Fidyah and Sadaqah.
The platform has seen success with the “Give with Ikhlas” campaign, an online donation initiative to feed the underprivileged in Malaysia: “We raised around 1.3 million Malaysian ringgits ($300,000) and were able to help 20 000 families,” Kamarudin said. Adapting to market conditions, the company implemented a diversification strategy and launched “Shop with Ikhlas” in March 2021. “We are trying to stay relevant in a very difficult time,” Kamarudin said.
Over the past eleven months, the number of merchants selling through the “Shop with Ikhlas” platform has grown from 15 to over 100. They offer a range of over 1,000 products such as prayer items, groceries, fashion, books, jewelry and household items. .
The Ikhlas team, which has grown from four to 25 people over the past two years, has developed technologies and services, such as Fidyah calculation and payment and online Qurban execution, in-house . For Zakat, the company works with an external partner because Malaysia has developed a system for collecting and redistributing zakat through public institutions.
As movement restrictions ease, Kamarudin hopes to finally move forward with the launch of the Omra travel service. An internal survey carried out by the company confirms the interest. Of the roughly 4,000 attendees, 60-70% said they wanted to travel to Saudi Arabia for Umrah towards the end of the year.
“We are planning something quite big after the Hajj season,” Kamarudin added without disclosing further details.
Although Ikhlas is part of Capital A Group, formerly known as AirAsia Group, the company intends to work with other airlines to offer a variety of Umrah packages. Kamarudin sees affiliation with AirAsia as a unique selling point, emphasizing inventory control, the process of assigning seats between fare classes on a flight leg. He recognizes, however, that customers want choice and the ability to customize plans.
“Having more airlines to work with and having more suppliers helps our service and price best practices,” Kamarudin said. “It also democratizes Umrah,” he added. “Umrah has always been dominated by travel agents. It’s a bit like a union here controlled by the agents.
AirAsia Group Berhad has announced a name change for the group holding company which will become Capital A Berhad in January 2022. The name change reflects the group’s new core business strategy as an investment holding company with a business portfolio synergistic travel and lifestyle solutions in aviation, digital engineering and vertical businesses.
“We are no longer just an airline,” Capital A CEO Tony Fernandes said at the announcement event in Kuala Lumpur.
According to Fernandes, the airline business will continue to support the AirAsia brand. However, non-air businesses are expected to generate up to 50% of group revenue by 2026, leveraging data and technology.
Struggling financially since the COVID-19 pandemic, the group’s third-quarter 2021 revenue fell another 37% year-on-year to 296 million Malaysian ringgits ($70.7 million), resulting in a loss before tax of 895 million Malaysian ringgits ($214 million). Digital companies such as bigpay, a money app for which Capital A is currently seeking a digital banking license in Malaysia, contributed 60% of revenue.
Listed in Bursa Malaysia, the company informed the exchange on Feb. 3 that it “is in the process of formulating a regularization plan to address its financial situation.” Like the larger group, Ikhlas welcomes the funding.
“We are looking for external parties to come into the business to allow us to expand aggressively, not only in Malaysia, but also in Indonesia and other Asian countries,” Kamarudin said.
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