Kuala Lumpur – The Indonesian Transport Ministry has frozen the Surabaya-Singapore route that AirAsia Indonesia’s QZ8501 was flying last Sunday when it crashed in the east Java Sea, killing all 162 passengers and crew on board.
According to the Ministry, the plane was flying an unauthorised schedule, adding that it has now frozen the airline’s permission to fly the route.
The acting director general of air transport, Djoko Murdjatmodjo, who gave these details said the plane’s flight time had not been cleared by officials, and the ministry would investigate all AirAsia schedules from Monday.
“It violated the route permit given, the schedule given, that’s the problem,” Murdjatmodjo told Agence France-Presse on Saturday, according to a Guardian report.
The permit would be frozen until investigations were completed, he also told Reuters, and it was possible AirAsia’s licence in Indonesia might be revoked.
Sunu Widyatmoko, AirAsia Indonesia’s chief, said the airline would cooperate with the inquiry.
“The government has suspended our flights from Surabaya to Singapore and back,” he said. “They are doing the evaluation process. AirAsia will cooperate fully with the evaluation.”
A statement from the 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. It was unclear how the airliner was able to fly without the necessary authorisation.
The plane was operated by AirAsia Indonesia, a unit of Malaysia-based AirAsia, which has a solid safety record.
Before take-off, the pilot of Flight QZ8501 had asked for permission to fly at a higher altitude to avoid a storm, but the request was not approved because there were other planes above him on the route, according to AirNav, Indonesia’s air traffic control.
In his last communication shortly before all contact was lost, he said he wanted to change course to avoid the menacing storm.