BREAKING: AirAsia and aviation officials confirmed Sunday morning they have lost contact with a passenger plane flying from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore.
The Singapore Civil Aviation Authority said the Airbus 320-200, which was carrying 161 people on board, lost contact with Jakarta air traffic control at 7:24 A.M. local time (5:35 p.m. Eastern Time Saturday). There was roughly one hour left before it was scheduled to land.
Trikora Raharjo, the general manager of Surabaya’s Juanda airport, said the airliner was carrying 155 passengers and six crew members. The vast majority of passengers, 149 of the 155, were Indonesia. The other six passengers included three South Koreans — one of whom was an infant — and one each from Singapore, Malaysia, and Great Britain.
Sky News, citing an official with Indonesia’s Transport Ministry, reported that the aircraft had requested an unusual route before losing contact, though PPD has not verified that claim. However, Hadi Mustofa, an official from the ministry, told reporters that they believe the airliner was over the Java Sea between Kalimantan and Java islands, and also that the weather in the area was cloudy.
The Singapore aviation authority said it was informed about the missing plane by Jakarta ground control about half an hour after the contact was lost.
“Search and rescue operations have been activated by the Indonesian authorities,” they said in a statement, adding that the Singapore air force and the navy also were activated with two C-130 planes.
AirAsia Flight QZ8501 was scheduled to depart from Juanda International Airport on the Indonesian island of East Java at 5:30 A.M. local time, with arrival in Singapore scheduled for 8:20 A.M. (7:20 P.M. ET Sunday).
It had last flown the route on Dec. 26.