Pilot food Malaysia captain
Former pilot Azrin Mohamad Zawawi prepares a curry laksa noodle dish at his food stall in Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. Captain Azrin, a former Malindo airline pilot, lost his job after he was retrenched along with 2,200 other crew and staff late October due to the coronavirus outbreak. He now runs a small 'Kapten Corner' food stall selling local food while he waits for the aviation industry to recover. Image Credit: AP

Subang Jaya: Every morning, Malaysian pilot Azrin Mohamad Zawawi puts on his white uniform and black captain’s hat before heading to work.

But rather than going to the airport, as he has done for two decades, he heads to a small noodle stall he now runs in a suburb just outside the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Azrin, 44, is one of thousands of staff who have lost their jobs after airlines were grounded by the coronavirus pandemic.

Pilot Malaysia food
Former pilot Azrin Mohamad Zawawi takes orders from customers at his food stall in Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. Image Credit: AP

“I need some income because I was retrenched by my previous company,” said Azrin, whose most recent employer, Malindo Air, was forced to slash its workforce this month.

Deprived of a regular income, the father of four decided to start a food business, selling Malaysian dishes such as a curry noodle dish made from a family recipe, laksa, and a mixed fruit dish called rojak.

His business got a surge of unexpected publicity when a photograph of Azrin wearing his captain’s uniform with a red apron taken by his wife and posted on social media went viral.

Still, customers say the business, aptly named “Kapten Corner” (“Captain’s Corner”), is more than just a gimmick.

“The main thing is the food must be good...I’ve eaten here twice. The first time I brought my wife and now I bring my friends,” said customer Azman Yunus.

Another customer, Syed Khadzil, also praised Azrin for finding a creative way to run a food business.

“The way he does business is also something unique - being creative with his uniform. It’s a crowd-puller,” said Syed.

For his part, Azrin hopes his experience can inspire others affected by the pandemic to try new ways to make a living.

“Embrace the challenge and never give up... It’s like flying the aircraft, we always move forward,” he said.