Malaysia's 3rd aviation tragedy in a year?

Malaysia's 3rd aviation tragedy in a year?
A teddy bear is placed next to wreckage at the site of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

It has been a bad year for Malaysian aviation.

The news about AirAsia flight QZ8501 yesterday follows the tragedies suffered by Malaysia Airlines (MAS) earlier this year.


The AirAsia Airbus 320-200 went off Jakarta's air traffic radar midway through its flight from Surabaya to Singapore.

On board were 155 passengers and seven crew members.

The AirAsia brand is synonymous with Malaysia, although AirAsia Indonesia is a separate entity.

The Indonesian airline is 49 per cent owned by Malaysia-based AirAsia Bhd, with local investors holding the rest, reported Reuters.

AirAsia chief Tony Fernandes tweeted that the missing plane was "my worst nightmare. But there is no stopping".

He had taken to his Twitter account to show his support for his employees after flight QZ8501 went missing.

Mr Fernandes, a former record industry executive who acquired the then-failing airline in 2001, arrived in Surabaya yesterday, where most of the passengers are from, reported AFP.

"Obviously this is a massive shock to us and we are devastated by what has happened. It's unbelievable," he told a press conference.

"We don't want to speculate. We don't know what's happened yet so we'll wait for the accident investigation... Our concern right now is for the relatives and the next of kin.

"Right now, we are focused on search operations. Countries in the region and the search teams are working hard to find the plane."

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said his nation was "praying for the safety" of those on board.

Yesterday's incident comes in the wake of two disasters suffered by Malaysia's national carrier MAS in the last 10 months.

MAS Flight MH370, with 239 passengers and crew on board - mostly Chinese nationals - vanished in March en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The Boeing 777 is believed to have gone far off course and ended up in the southern Indian Ocean.

Extensive searches of the area by global aviation experts and the Malaysian and Australian governments have turned up nothing so far.

Just four months later, MAS was hit by another tragedy.

In July, Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukrainian airspace, killing all 298 on board, including 43 Malaysians.

It was flying to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam when it was apparently hit by a surface-to-air missile.

The Ukrainian government and pro-Russian Ukrainian rebels have blamed each other for the disaster.

The twin tragedies led to MAS being delisted from the Malaysian stock exchange on Dec 15, as it undergoes privatisation.

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