Aviation expert baffled at AirAsia route suspension

Former Indonesian Air Force chief of staff and aviation observer Chappy Hakim says he does not understand why the Transportation Ministry chose to suspend AirAsia Flight QZ8501 from Surabaya to Singapore, after it was found that the low-cost airline did not have a permit to fly on Sundays.

"If it's proven that AirAsia flew on a day it wasn't supposed to fly, the question is how could its flight plan be approved in the first place?" Chappy said on Saturday as quoted by kompas.com.

"It makes little sense that they chose to fly on a Sunday knowing they didn't have permission to do so."

He added that it was very odd for a flight to commence without a legal basis.

Meanwhile, Indonesia AirAsia communication manager Malinda Yasmin said the airline could not provide any information before the investigation was completed.

"We will cooperate with the government during the investigation process," she told The Jakarta Post via SMS.

On Friday night, the Transportation Ministry issued a statement saying that Indonesia AirAsia's Surabaya-Singapore route would be suspended until further notice due to a violation in its operational times.

The airline was only allowed to fly the route on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Flight QZ8501 flew and crashed in the Karimata Strait between the islands of Belitung and Kalimantan on Dec. 28.

The ministry called on the airline to help passengers holding tickets on that route to be transferred to other flights, and added that it would review the suspension after the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) concluded its crash report on the incident.