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Sunday, 28 December 2014

Air Asia Jet Flight QZ8501 missing on way to Singapore from Jakarta, Indonesia, after Take off

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Relatives of passengers of AirAsia flight QZ8501 comfort each other Sunday at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, Indonesia. AP
Relatives of passengers of AirAsia flight QZ8501 comfort each other Sunday at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, Indonesia. AP
Fight QZ8501 lost contact at 07:24 (23:24 GMT), Malaysia-based AirAsia tweeted.

Search and rescue operations are under way.

Malaysia's national carrier Malaysia Airlines has suffered two disasters this year - flights MH370 and MH17 - but AirAsia has never lost a plane.

Flight MH370 disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March with 239 passengers and crew, and MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in July, killing all 298 on board.

The AirAsia flight had been due to arrive in Singapore at 08:30 (00:30GMT).

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

There were 155 passengers on board, with 138 adults, 16 children and one infant, the company said in a statement. Also on board were two pilots and five cabin crew.

Most of those on board were Indonesian, but there were six others on board, AirAsia has said: three South Koreans, and one each from France, Malaysia and Singapore.

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.

He said the plane had asked for an unusual route before it lost contact and that the weather had been cloudy.

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.


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

Indonesia AirAsia is 49 percent owned by Malaysia-based budget carrier AirAsia (AIRA.KL), with local investors holding the rest. The AirAsia group, including affiliates in Thailand, the Philippines and India, has not had a crash since its Malaysian budget operations began in 2002.

Flight QZ8501 was between the Indonesian port of Tanjung Pandan and the town of Pontianak, in West Kalimantan province on Borneo island, when it went missing, Atmodjo told a news conference in Jakarta. The aircraft had been flying at 32,000 feet and had asked to fly at 38,000 feet to avoid clouds, he added.

Tanjung Pandan is the main town on Belitung island, roughly half way between Surabaya and Singapore. There was bad weather over the island at the time.

The plane had been due in Singapore at 8:30 a.m. Singapore time (0030 GMT).
An Indonesian woman at Singapore's Changi Airport said her sister and other family members, including two children, were on board.

"No one has told us anything. We heard the news and came to the airport," the woman said before entering a cordoned-off area.

The airline said the captain and first officer were both experienced.

The incident comes at the end of a disastrous year for the region's airlines.

Malaysia's national flag carrier, Malaysia Airlines, lost two aircraft this year. Flight MH370 went missing on March 8 on a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board and has still not been found.

On July 17, Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.
Indonesia AirAsia has a fleet of 30 Airbus A320s. The missing plane has been in service for just over six years, according to airfleets.net.

All AirAsia-branded airlines operate aircraft made by Airbus, which has orders for several hundred planes from the group. AirAsia is considered one of the European planemaker's most important customers.


Air Asia Jet Flight QZ8501 missing on way to Singapore from Jakarta, Indonesia, after Take off
A tweet from Air Asia

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