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MELAKA, April 22 -- "We used to line up at the airport immigration but now we line up at the buffet table to grab food," joked Hizman Hafsham, 35, who shared his breaking of fast experience at the Melaka International Airport (LTAM ) in Batu Berendam, here, yesterday.
Accountant Hizman loves to travel so the the concept of breaking fast at an airport seems to have "cured" the travel bug in him by just being there.
"Even though I did not see planes taking off or landing, just being at the terminal is enough for me as I have not set foot in an airport for almost two years due to the (COVID-19) pandemic," he told Bernama.
For the event’s organiser Mohd Eszahar Mansor, who is also the managing director of Bintang Katering, he did not expect the spontaneous idea offered to the LTAM management on April 5 to bear fruit.
“On April 13, the first day of Ramadan, we started operating here and the response has been very encouraging. Not only is the price of the buffet affordable, some people are attracted to come here because they have never been to this airport,” he said.
Even the location, on the road leading to the departure hall in front of Exit Gates 2 and 3, which is almost 300-metres long, is spacious and has an open atmosphere.
“As we place great emphasis on standard operating procedures, this area has the great advantage of providing 110 dining tables and a systematic buffet table arrangement compared to being inside a hall.
“Facilities such as parking, surau and restrooms are also available. We are able to cater to between 300 to 500 customers, with a strength of 70 staff, every time we break fast during Ramadan," he said.
Mohd Eszahar explained that there are more than 100 types of food available on the menu including types of rice and porridge, roasted lamb and desserts.
He said the menu comprised five different sets which were rotated daily to ensure patrons experienced variety.
Meanwhile, LTAM manager Mohamad Nazri Mat Khalid said hopefully, the concept will ease the longing for an airport atmosphere since the pandemic hit last year.
More interestingly, the LTAM terminal space, which for more than a year was quiet without visitors, had only one shop is operating but now it is back with 'buka puasa' gatherings.
"This is a unique collaboration and during the nearly 20-year history of the airport, this is the first time the concept of a Ramadan buffet has been held at the airport," he said.
According to him, this collaboration is more of a win-win situation as there have been no commercial aviation activities at LTAM for 13 months while the catering business has also just started to breathe again.
"We both need a platform to generate income and this collaboration is unique indeed," he added.