QZ8501 UPDATE DAY 7: S'pore says Air Asia flight schedule was approved

UPDATE (7PM): Singapore says AirAsia QZ8501 flight schedule was approved 

The AirAsia QZ8501 flight schedule had been approved, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and Changi Airport Group said in a joint press release on Saturday.

The statement comes after Indonesia’s transport ministry said the airline "violated the route permit given" by flying on a Sunday.

Indonesia’s transport ministry spokesman J.A. Barata had said early on Saturday that AirAsia was not permitted to fly the Surabaya-Singapore route on Sundays and had not asked to change its schedule.


The joint press release, however, stated that the airline was "operating the flight four times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays".

An airline needs to obtain approval for its flight schedules "from the respective civil aviation authorities at each end of its flight routing separately", before launching a service between two points.

It said:

"On the Singapore end, Indonesia AirAsia had applied to operate a daily flight between Surabaya and Singapore for the Northern Winter Season from Oct 26, 2014 to March 28, 2015, arriving at Changi Airport at 8.30am and departing for Surabaya at 2.10pm.

"These daily flights were approved..."

It added: "Airlines may adjust their flight frequencies in the course of a season in response to market demand or operational requirements."


UPDATE (6.00PM): Indonesia government to investigate all Indonesia AirAsia flight schedules

Indonesia’s transport ministry will investigate all Indonesia AirAsia flight schedules from Monday, an official told Reuters, as part of a government probe into the passenger jet that crashed.

"We are going to investigate all AirAsia flight schedules," said Mr Djoko Muratmodjo, acting general director for air navigation in the transport ministry, on Saturday.

"Hopefully we can start on next Monday. We won’t focus on licences, just schedules.

"It is possible AirAsia’s licence in Indonesia might be revoked,” he said, stressing that was only one possibility.

Indonesian Navy personnel evacuating the bodies of passengers from AirAsia flight QZ8501. Photo: Reuters


The transport ministry on Friday temporarily suspended Indonesia AirAsia’s Surabaya-Singapore flights because it had apparently operated the service beyond the scope of its licence, which permitted flights on four days of the week but not Sundays, when the crash occurred.

"We will also investigate the party that gave permission to AirAsia to fly on that day," Mr Muratmodjo added.

Indonesia AirAsia CEO Sunu Widyatmoko told the company would cooperate with the investigation into the Surabaya-Singapore route, but declined to answer further questions.

Source: Reuters

UPDATE (1.30PM): Chief of Navy tweets about the search area for AirAsia Flight 8501.


UPDATE (11.35AM) Recovery teams have found two big parts of AirAsia Flight 8501, Indonesia’s top search official said.

The two objects are about 30m under water and located near an oil slick spotted Friday, said Basarnas chief Bambang Sulistyo

The larger of the objects was around 10m by five metres.

“With the discovery of an oil spill and two big parts of the aircraft, I can assure you these are the parts of the AirAsia plane we have been looking for,” Soelistyo told reporters in the capital Jakarta.

He said:

“As I speak, we are lowering an ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) underwater to get an actual picture of the objects detected on the sea floor.
All are at the depth of 30 metres.”

A strong current, however, was making it difficult to operate the ROV.

Rough weather in recent days has hampered the search for bodies and the fuselage of the Airbus A320-200, which disappeared from radar and crashed into the sea during a storm.

A Republic of Singapore Navy ship RSS Persistence, seen from an Indonesian Navy plane, takes part in the search for wreckage and the remains of passengers onboard the AirAsia QZ8501 flight, in the Karimata Strait south of Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan. Photo: Reuters


Malaysian newspaper The Star quoted him saying that three vessels sent out to a sea area where the oil slick was spotted located the "two objects...that are close to each other".

One of the three vessels was Singapore's Navy ship RSS Persistence, he added.

So far 30 bodies have been recovered in the search, which had been narrowed Friday to an area of 1,575 square nautical miles – a tenth of the size of Thursday’s search – with 29 ships and 17 aircraft engaged in the operation.

Finding the plane’s black boxes is crucial to determining the cause of the crash. - AFP

UPDATE (11.05AM): AirAsia QZ8501 flight schedule wasn't approved, says Indonesia

The AirAsia plane that crashed last weekend was flying on an unauthorised schedule, Indonesia’s transport ministry said on Saturday.

The ministry has since frozen the airline’s permission to fly the route.

Flight QZ8501 crashed into the Java Sea with 162 people on board en route from Surabaya to Singapore early on Sunday.

The plane's flight time had not been cleared by officials, said director general of air transport Djoko Murjatmodjo.

He told AFP:

"It violated the route permit given, the schedule given, that’s the problem.
"AirAsia’s permit for the route has been frozen because it violated the route permit given."

He said the permit would be frozen until investigations were completed.

A statement from transport ministry spokesman J.A. Barata said AirAsia was not permitted to fly the Surabaya-Singapore route on Sundays and had not asked to change its schedule.


File Photo: Air Asia Airbus A320 taxiing at the Changi Airport Terminal 1 on 21 September 2011. Credit: SPH


Search teams have narrowed their hunt for the plane’s fuselage and remaining bodies from the crash.

Rough weather has in recent days hampered the search for the plane, which is believed to be in relatively shallow water of around 25 to 32m.

Source: AFP