KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 —The head of the AirAsia group Tan Sri Tony Fernandes took to informal means to slam “sensational” headlines on the fatal crash of Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501 despite maintaining official silence on key issues.
In a series of postings on Twitter last night, Fernandes told AirAsia staff to stay "strong" and not let newspaper headlines detract them from their duties.
"Many sensational headlines on Airasia. We have kept quiet as our focus is on families. One by one facts will come out and clear us.
"Don't let newspaper headlines deflect the amazing job you do. Airasia changed flying," the AirAsia boss said using his twitter handle @tonyfernandes.
Over the weekend, Indonesia’s transport ministry said the crashed plane was not authorised to fly the Surabaya-Singapore route on the schedule it took.
The airline could only fly between the two cities on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays but not Sundays as in the doomed flight’s case, according to the Indonesian ministry.
The statement made major headlines.
Later, Singapore’s Civil Aviation Authority contradicted Indonesia’s claim, saying the airline had been authorised to run daily flights during the winter season under a bilateral air-services accord.
He also denied reports that an AirAsia plane departing Surabaya over the weekend suffered from a stalled engine.
"Silly headlines in Malaysia. Airasia Indonesia aircraft did not have a stalled engine. An Apu (auxiliary power unit) which is ground power had to be restarted.
"To all my staff stay strong. Stay focused. Show the world why we have been world's best for 6 years running. Love you all," Fernandes added.
Separately, Jakarta Post reported yesterday that official documents allege Indonesia AirAsia violated procedures which resulted in the pilots of the doomed flight QZ8501 not receiving a requested weather report before flying out into stormy weather.
Jakarta Post wrote in its report that the document was originally sent by Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) to Transportation Minister Ignatius Jonan on Wednesday, but added that the pilots of QZ8501 had not received the required weather report from the agency before it departed Surabaya for Singapore last Sunday.
Indonesia AirAsia chief executive Sunu Widyatmoko immediately denied the allegation.
“AirAsia Indonesia really considers and is very careful in evaluating weather reports from the BMKG before every flight,” he was quoted as saying.