KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 28 – “On my way to Surabaya where most of the passengers are from, with my Indonesian management. Providing information as we get it,” he tweeted from his Twitter handle @tonyfernandes half an hour ago. The tweet has been retweeted over 1,000 times.
Flight QZ8501 from Surabaya to Singapore lost contact with the air traffic control at 7.24am today, Indonesia AirAsia said earlier. Messages of support streamed in following his latest posting on the micro blogging site. Former deputy minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah told the low-cost carrier head to remain strong.
“@tonyfernandes stay strong. Our prayers r wif u!”, he posted from his twitter handle @saifuddinabd. Frank Vidales who tweets at the handle @fvidales9 commended the high-flying businessman for his leadership. “@tonyfernandes great leadership…stay strong and focused on the families,” he wrote.
Dean A Martin (@FANGFARRIER) wrote : “@tonyfernandes Thoughts and prayers going out to all concerned!” while Prevrnavan Amirtham who tweets at @PrevR said : “@tonyfernandes stay strong Tan Sri…all of us are with u sir #QZ8501”.
The Airbus aircraft which is under the stable of the popular award-winning Malaysian low-cost airline was flying from Surabaya to Singapore with 162 people on board, having taken off at 5.20am, and was expected to arrive at its destination at 8.30am local time.
The aircraft was in the Indonesian Flight Information Region (FIR), more than 200 nm southeast of the Singapore-Jakarta FIR boundary, when it lost contact with the Jakarta air traffic control at 7.24am. It has been confirmed that one Malaysian is on board the plane. There is also one Singaporean, one Briton and one French as well as three South Koreans.
The rest are Indonesians. Search and rescue operations have been activated by the Indonesian authorities from the Pangkal Pinang Search and Rescue office. This is the second incident involving a Malaysian-owned airline losing contact and disappearing this year.
The first involved Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 that dropped off the radar while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8. The plane and its 239 passengers and crew on board remain missing until today. MAS also lost another plane, flight MH17, on July 17 when it was said to have been shot down by an air-to-surface missile over eastern Ukraine while en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 passengers were killed.