AirAsia flight QZ8501 from Indonesia to Singapore missing – BBC News

Information board in Singapore airport

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The BBC’s Karishma Vaswani: “Some Indonesian transport officials have been saying it requested a different route”

An AirAsia airliner flying from Indonesia to Singapore with 162 people on board has lost contact with air traffic control.

Flight QZ8501, an Airbus plane, went missing at 07:24 (23:24 GMT), Malaysia-based AirAsia tweeted.

Indonesian military planes are searching an area of the Java Sea.

AirAsia, a budget airline, has never lost a plane, but Malaysia’s national carrier Malaysia Airlines has suffered two this year – flights MH370 and MH17.

The AirAsia plane disappeared about two hours into a three-hour flight.

It left the Indonesian city of Surabaya in eastern Java at 05:20 local time (21:20 GMT) and was due to arrive in Singapore at 08:30 (00:30 GMT).

The missing jet had requested a “deviation” from the flight path due to bad weather, the company said.

Indonesia’s transport ministry said the pilot had asked permission to climb to 38,000 ft (11,000m) to avoid thick cloud. No distress call is reported to have been issued by the crew.

Anxious family members wait for news at the airport in Surabaya Anxious family members have been arriving at the airport in Surabaya

A holding area in Singapore for family and friends of those on board flight QZ8501There was a similar scene at the flight’s intended destination in Singapore

The flight arrivals board at Changi Airport in Singapore, where the AirAsia flight was dueThe flight arrivals board at Changi Airport in Singapore, where the AirAsia flight was due

Emergency contact

There were 155 passengers on board, the company said in a statement:

  • 138 adults, 16 children and one infant
  • Two pilots and five cabin crew were also on board
  • Most on board were Indonesian
  • Six were from other countries: three South Koreans and one French, Malaysian and Singaporean.

AirAsia has set up an emergency line for family or friends of those who may be on board. The number is +622 129 850 801.

A map showing flight QZ8501's flight path

An official with the transport ministry, Hadi Mustofa, told local media the plane lost contact over the Java Sea, between the islands of Kalimantan and Java.

The company’s chief executive, Tony Fernandes, tweeted: “Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. We must stay strong.”

AirAsia Indonesia is an affiliate of the Malaysian company AirAsia, operating domestic flights round the Indonesian archipelago as well as international services to Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and Thailand.

AirAsia Indonesia was banned from flying to the European Union in 2007 due to safety concerns but this was lifted in July 2010.

The latest incident caps a tragic year for Malaysian aviation with the disappearance of one Malaysia Airlines plane and the apparent shooting down of another.

Flight MH370 disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March with 239 passengers and crew. The wreckage, thought to be in southern Indian Ocean, has still not been located.

MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in July, killing all 298 on board.


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