AirAsia boss tells staff: Don't let silly headlines get you down

AirAsia boss tells staff: Don't let silly headlines get you down
AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes talks to the media at Juanda Airport, in Surabaya, Indonesia.

AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes has lashed out at recent media reports on the airline, calling the headlines "sensational" and "silly".

In a series of postings on Twitter on Sunday night, Mr Fernandes told Air­Asia staff to stay "strong" and not let newspaper headlines detract them from their duties.

"Many sensational headlines on AirAsia. We have kept quiet as our focus is on families. One by one facts will come out and clear us.

"Don't let newspaper headlines deflect the amazing job you do. AirAsia changed flying," he said, using his twitter handle @tonyfernandes.

This is after another AirAsia incident on Saturday that saw one of its planes turned back before take-off in Indonesia, a week after Flight QZ8501 crashed into the Java Sea with 162 people on board, AFP reported.

AirAsia Indonesia Flight 7633 was taxiing in preparation for take-off on Saturday at Surabaya airport - where last week's doomed flight also took off - when a power unit used to start the plane shut down, an airline official said.

As a result, the pilot returned to the gate, director of safety and security at AirAsia Indonesia Raden Achmad Sadikin told reporters.

Indonesian and Malaysian media had reported that the Bandung-bound plane's engine had cut out after a bang that terrified passengers, but AirAsia stressed it was a minor incident.

"It's not that the engine failed. The plane wanted to take off but the APU (auxiliary power unit), which is the equipment that helped to start the engine, suddenly shut down," Mr Sadikin said.

Passenger Yusuf Fitriadi told Indonesia's Metro TV station that about 90 per cent of the passengers refused to board the aircraft, fearing that the fault would occur again during flight.

REFUND

Those who declined to board the plane had their fares refunded, Metro TV said.

After undergoing a check, the plane took off and landed safely at its destination in West Java, AirAsia Indonesia chief executive Sunu Widyatmoko was quoted by local media as saying.

Mr Fernandes said: "Silly headlines in Malaysia. Airasia Indonesia aircraft did not have a stalled engine. An APU, which is ground powered, had to be restarted."

He urged his staff to remain strong.

"Facts will come out. As I have said we are calm, will take the hits now as our focus is families.

"But time will show what AirAsia is all about," he tweeted.

Three more bodies from Flight QZ8501 were recovered yesterday, bringing the total to 37, AFP reported.


This article was first published on January 6, 2015.
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