An AirAsia flight carrying 155 people from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore lost contact with air traffic control early Sunday morning, officials in the region and the low-cost airline said.
Reuters reported that the flight QZ 8501, an Airbus A320-200, lost contact with the Jakarta air traffic control tower at 6:17 am local time (about 6: 17 pm (Saturday)Nigerian time), Indonesian Transport Ministry official Hadi Mustofa said
According to NBC news, The plane carrying 162 aboard went missing on Sunday en route from Indonesia to Singapore after the pilot asked to change course due to weather. AirAsia said most on board were Indonesian and that there were six foreigners — three South Koreans and one each from Singapore, France and Malaysia.
It had 155 passengers and crew on board, another Indonesian Transport official said.
“Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. we must stay strong,” AirAsia Chief Executive Tony Fernandes said on Twitter. He later announced he was traveling to Surabaya, saying most of the passengers are from there.
CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo questioned whether weather would have been a factor in what happened to the plane.
“Ordinarily, the pilots would get the updated weather from air traffic control and, of course, their onboard radar,” said Schiavo, a former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation. “So whether there was (bad) weather in the area would not be a mystery,” she said.
CNN reports that AirAsia is a Malaysia-based airline that is popular in the region as a budget carrier. It has about 100 destinations, with affiliate companies in several Asian countries.
The missing plane is said to be operated by AirAsia’s Indonesian affiliate, in which the Malaysian company holds a 48.9% stake, according to its website.
Malaysia Airlines, who had twin flight disasters has tweeted in solidarity in support of the airline saying:
Months ago, an exclusive footage from the scene of the crash of MH17, the Malaysian Airlines passenger plane, in Ukraine was released by the Russian news site Lifenews.ru.