CEO Fernandes rejects Indonesia's 'unauthorized flight' claim

CEO Fernandes rejects Indonesia's 'unauthorized flight' claim
AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes talks to the media at Juanda Airport, in Surabaya, Indonesia.

KUALA LUMPUR - The CEO of budget airline AirAsia on Wednesday dismissed claims that Flight 8501, which crashed Dec. 28, killing 162 passengers and crew, was not authorized to fly.

"We had flown that schedule and had rights for seven days a week," Tony Fernandes said.

Indonesian transport officials have said previously the Surabaya to Singapore flight, which went down in the Java Sea, took off without permission. The Transportation Ministry claimed AirAsia Indonesia had clearance to fly on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays only. Flight 8501 took off on a Sunday. The route has been suspended since Jan. 2 pending a full investigation.

AirAsia's shares dropped on news of the suspension, falling to a low of 2.48 ringgit Tuesday but rebounded to 2.53 ringgit as of noon Wednesday.

Fernandes said AirAsia Indonesia, an affiliate of Malaysia-based AirAsia, had rights to fly the route seven days a week. "What happened was purely an administrative error," he said.

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