UPDATE (2.55PM): Flightradar24.com has released a map of where contact with AirAsia QZ8501 was lost.
UPDATE (2.50PM): CEO of AirAsia, Tony Fernandes, urges his company to stay strong.
PETALING JAYA (The Star) - AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes has asked his company to stay strong after Flight QZ8501 lost communication with Indonesia's Surabaya airport 42 minutes after takeoff at 5:35am local time Sunday.
"We will be putting out another statement soon. Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. We must stay strong," tweeted Fernandes at 12.52pm on Sunday.
The plane with 162 people aboard lost contact with ground control on Sunday after takeoff from Indonesia on the way to Singapore, and the airline said search and rescue operations were underway.
AirAsia said in a statement that the plane was an Airbus A320-200 and that search and rescue operations were in progress.
UPDATE (2.10PM): An update from AFP and Reuters reported that the pilot of the missing AirAsia plane had requested to deviate from the original flight route as the weather was bad.
JAKARTA - Air Asia Indonesia said the pilot of flight QZ8501 that went missing between Indonesia and Singapore early Sunday had requested "deviation" from its flight plan because of bad weather.
"The aircraft... was requesting deviation due to enroute weather," the Malaysia-based carrier said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.
"Communication with the aircraft was lost while it was still under the control of the Indonesian Air Traffic Control (ATC)."
Meantime, Joko Muryo Atmodjo, air transportation director at the Transport Ministry, told a news conference in Sunday that the plane had been flying at 32,000 feet and had asked to fly at 38,000 feet to avoid clouds.
He said the aircraft was between the Indonesian port of Tanjung Pandan and the town of Pontianak, in West Kalimantan on Borneo island, when it went missing,
It was scheduled to land at Changi Airport in Singapore at 8.30am on Sunday.
UPDATE: AirAsia Indonesia has released a press statement to confirm that flight QZ8501 has lost contact with air traffic control this morning.
Here is the full statement from AirAsia Indonesia:
AirAsia Indonesia regrets to confirm that flight QZ8501 from Surabaya to Singapore has lost contact with air traffic control at 0724hours (Surabaya Local Time) this morning. The flight took off from Juanda International Airport in Surabaya at 0535hours.
The aircraft was an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC. There were two pilots, four flight attendants and one engineer on board.
The captain in command had a total of 6,100 flying hours and the first officer a total of 2,275 flying hours
There were 155 passengers on board, with 138 adults, 16 children and 1 infant. Also on board were 2 pilots and 5 cabin crew.
Nationalities of passengers and crew onboard are as below:
3 South Korean
At this time, search and rescue operations are being conducted under the guidance of The Indonesia of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). AirAsia Indonesia is cooperating fully and assisting the investigation in every possible way.
The aircraft was on the submitted flight plan route and was requesting deviation due to enroute weather before communication with the aircraft was lost while it was still under the control of the Indonesian Air Traffic Control (ATC).
The aircraft had undergone its last scheduled maintenance on 16 November 2014.
AirAsia has established an Emergency Call Centre that is available for family or friends of those who may have been on board the aircraft. The number is: +622129850801.
AirAsia will release further information as soon as it becomes available. Updated information will also be posted on the AirAsia website, www.airasia.com.
UPDATE: (1.20PM): Detik.com has released photos of the passenger list on board QZ8501.
UPDATE (12.45pm): CEO of AirAsia, Tony Fernandes and AirAsia's social media arm have taken to Facebook and Twitter to confirm the disappearance of the airline.
UPDATE: The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has released a statement confirming that an AirAsia plane has lost contact with air traffic control this morning.
Here is the full statement from CAAS:
An Indonesia Air Asia aircraft, QZ8501, scheduled to arrive at 0830 hours local time from Surabaya, lost contact with Jakarta air traffic control at 07 24 hours local time today. Singapore air traffic control was informed of this loss of contact at 0754 hours by Jakarta air traffic control.
The aircraft was in the Indonesian Flight Information Region (FIR) when contact was lost, more than 200nm southeast of the Singapore-Jakarta FIR boundary. Search and rescue operations have been activated by the Indonesian authorities from the Pangkal Pinang Search and Rescue office.
The Singapore Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC), managed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and supported by various agencies, including the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), has also been activated and has offered help to the Indonesian authorities.
Two C130s are already on stand-by for this purpose.
We remain ready to provide any assistance to support the search and rescue effort.
The CAAS and Changi Airport Group (CAG) Crisis Management Centres have already been activated. We are working with the airline's crisis management team.
A waiting area, and all necessary facilities and support have been set up for relatives and friends of the affected passengers at Changi Airport Terminal 2 (Level 3). Further updates will be provided once more information is available.
Reuters report: AirAsia flight from Indonesia to S'pore loses contact, 155 on board
JAKARTA - An AirAsia flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore lost contact with air traffic control on Sunday, Indonesian media said, citing a Transport Ministry official.
Transport Ministry official Hadi Mustofa said the aircraft, flight number QZ 8501, lost contact with the Jakarta air traffic control tower at 6:17 a.m local time. (2317 GMT).
The Airbus 320-200 had 155 passengers and crew on board, another Indonesian Transport official said. They include 149 Indonesians, one Singaporean, one Briton and one Malaysian on board.
Mustofa said the plane had asked for an unusual route before it lost contact.
The flight had been due in Singapore at 8:30 a.m. Singapore time (0030 GMT). The Singapore airport said on its website the status of the flight was "delayed".
AirAsia has confirmed that the flight has lost contact and would be investigating what had happened to it. The company gave no further information.