AirAsia X says a flight heading from Malaysia to Saudi Arabia turned back shortly after takeoff due to a technical problem, circling for hours to burn fuel before landing safely in Kuala Lumpur.

AirAsia X Group Chief Executive Kamarudin Meranun says the auto-thrust of one of the plane's engines malfunctioned about 45 minutes after take-off Sunday.

He said the pilots switched to manual thrust and could have continued the flight, but decided to turn back since it was early in the nearly 10-hour trip to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He said there was no emergency and that it was a precautionary measure.

The airline said the Airbus A330 landed safely more than five hours after take-off. It said all passengers would be transferred to another plane, which was to depart shortly.