The search for an AirAsia aeroplane that went missing over the Java Sea with 162 people on board has been suspended overnight. The Airbus A320 was on a two-hour flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore. Flight QZ8501 was asking for permission to deviate from its submitted flight plan because of weather en route before contact with air traffic control was lost at about 6.13am on Sunday, AirAsia said. Most of the 155 passengers were Indonesian, according to AirAsia. Three South Korean nationals, as well as one person from Singapore, Malaysia and the UK, were also among the passengers. The crew was made up of six Indonesians and a French citizen, the airline said. The disappearance of the flight is a further blow to the airline industry and to Malaysia in particular after a grim year for accidents. Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 with 239 people on board disappeared on March 8 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The aircraft has never been located despite an extensive search operation across thousands of miles of the Indian Ocean. Tony Fernandes, the chief executive who founded AirAsia with just two aircraft in 2001, tweeted: “I am touched by the massive show of support especially from my fellow airlines. This is my worse nightmare. But there is no stopping.” The Malaysian entrepreneur, who also owns the UK football club Queens Park Rangers, said he was on his way to Surabaya. Another Malaysia Airlines aeroplane, Flight MH17, was shot down in a missile attack over eastern Ukraine on July 17. AirAsia, based in Malaysia, is a well-known budget airline in southeast Asia and one of the world’s fastest growing, having extended rapidly throughout the region. It has never had a fatal crash. The missing flight was operated by AirAsia Indonesia, an affiliate of the airline set up in 2004.
The Financial Times