Two hours after takeoff from Surabaya, Indonesia on Saturday, and not long after requesting a flight change due to bad weather, AirAsia Flight QZ8501 went missing en route to Singapore and stopped responding to authorities. No distress signal was sent by the plane, but several storms reportedly hovered above the Java Sea — over which the plane was flying — when Flight QZ8501 went missing. This is the third flight lost by a Malaysia-based carrier this year; AirAsia, of which AirAsia Indonesia is a subsidiary, is almost half-owned by Malaysia.
The plane carried 162 people on board: 149 Indonesia citizens, 3 South Koreans, one French passenger, one from Singapore, one from Malaysia, and one from the United Kingdom. AirAsia said. There were seven crew members of board. Anxious relatives waited for news at both Singapore and Indonesia airports, and a waiting room was set up where the plane had left in Surabaya. Singapore immediately activated its navy and said it was ready to help Indonesia in the sea search for the plane.
In an updated statement, AirAsia said:
AirAsia Indonesia regrets to confirm that flight QZ8501 from Surabaya to Singapore has lost contact with air traffic control at 07:24 (Surabaya LT) this morning. The flight took off from Juanda International Airport in Surabaya at 0535hours.
The aircraft was an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC. There were two pilots, four flight attendants and one engineer on board.
The captain in command had a total of 6,100 flying hours and the first officer a total of 2,275 flying hours
There were 155 passengers on board, with 138 adults, 16 children and 1 infant. Also on board were 2 pilots and 5 cabin crew.
Later, it wrote of the nationality breakdown:
Nationalities of passengers:
3 South Korea
1 United Kingdom
Nationalities of crew:
Tony Fernandes, the chief executive of AirAsia, Tweeted that he was on his way to Surabaya. He left several messages of support on social media.
Our priority is looking after all the next of Kin for my staff and passangers. We will do whatever we can. We continue to pass information aa it comes.
My only thought are with the passangers and my crew.We put our hope in the SAR operation and thank the Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysian governments.
Malaysia Airlines saw two flight disasters this year — one of its planes, Flight 17, was shot down over Ukraine in July, and another, Flight 370, disappeared above the Southern Indian Ocean in March with more than 200 people on board. It has never been found. AirAsia is 49 percent owned by Malaysia, whose national carrier is Malaysia Airlines, but has never lost a plane.
Indonesia sent ships to investigate the area, but limited visibility led to the search being suspended until morning.