An AirAsia plane en route from Indonesia to Singapore has lost contact with air traffic control.
The flight had seven crew and 155 passengers on board. The passengers are reported to include one Singaporean, one Malaysian, three Koreans, and 149 Indonesians. They include 17 children.
The airline said in a statement: “AirAsia Indonesia regrets to confirm that flight QZ8501 from Surabaya to Singapore lost contact with air traffic control at 07:24 this morning.
“At the present time we unfortunately have no further information regarding the status of the passengers and crew members on board, but we will keep all parties informed as more information becomes available.”
AirAsia said the missing aircraft is an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC.
“At this time, search and rescue operations are in progress and AirAsia is cooperating fully and assisting the rescue service.”
The CEO of AirAsia, Tony Fernandes, said: We will be putting out another statement soon. Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. We must stay strong.”
Local media are quoting transport ministry official, Hadi Mustofa, who is reported to have said the plane was believed to be over the Java Sea, which lies between Surabaya and Singapore, when contact was lost.
He is reported to have said there was a request from the aircraft for “an unusual route” before it went missing.
Mustofa told Indonesia’s MetroTV that the plane lost communication with Surabaya airport 42 minutes after take-off at 5:35 a.m.
AirAsia Indonesia is 49 percent owned by the popular Malaysia-based budget carrier AirAsia, with local investors holding the rest. The AirAsia group, including affiliates in Thailand, the Philippines and India, has not had a crash since its operations began in 2002.
Malaysia has already suffered two air tragedies this year. No trace has yet been found of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was then shot down over Ukraine on July 17, and it is still not clear who was responsible.
AirAsia has established an emergency call centre for the relatives or friends of those on board the aircraft. Telephone: 00622129850801