Missing Flight QZ8501: Who is AirAsia?

World Today

Director of Air Asia Tony Fernandez (C), President Director Air Asia Indonesia Sunu Widiatmoko (R) and the head of Surabaya search and rescue agency Hernanto (L), speak during a press conference in Surabaya, East Java, on December 28, 2014, after Malaysia aircraft Air Asia flight QZ8501 went missing. The AirAsia Airbus plane with 162 people on board went missing en route from Indonesia to Singapore early on December 28, officials and the airline said, in the third major incident to affect a Malaysian carrier this year. AFP PHOTO / Juni KRISWANTO

Indonesia AirAsia has never had a fatality in its 18 year history. The airline has led the way in low-cost flights throughout the South East Asian region, and it’s closely allied with its CEO, Tony Fernandes. For more information on the background of AirAsia, CCTV America’s Jessica Stone reported from Washington, D.C.

Missing Flight QZ8501: Who is AirAsia?

Indonesia AirAsia has never had a fatality in its 18 year history. The airline has led the way in low-cost flights throughout the South East Asian region, and it’s closely allied with its CEO, Tony Fernandes. For more information on the background of AirAsia, CCTV America's Jessica Stone reported from Washington, D.C.

Former Time Warner executive, Tony Fernandes, bought AirAsia in 2001, creating the region’s first low-cost airline and enabling millions who had previously not had access to affordable air travel to fly.

Through its eight affiliate airlines, AirAsia takes passengers to 100 destinations in more than 20 countries.

Indonesia AirAsia was operating the plane that lost contact with air traffic control over the Java Sea after leaving Surabaya, Indonesia early Sunday.

The airline has grown quickly with destinations ranging from Saudi Arabia across India to Japan and Australia, but most of its flights center around Southeast Asia including Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

With no first class or business class seats and average ticket prices of $48, AirAsia has given established air carriers like the troubled Malaysia Airlines stiff competition. In 2013, AirAsia, with the slogan “Now Everyone Can Fly,” carried nearly eight million passengers.

The airline flies a single aisle Airbus 320 which is much lighter than Boeing aircraft and fits up to 180 passengers. According to Airbus, the aircraft has registered 23,000 flight hours and logged 13,600 flights.

Its Malaysian-British owner and CEO Tony Fernandes is a larger-than-life figure who is closely associated with the company. He’s also owner of the Tune Hotels, has hosted the television program, Apprentice Asia, is founder of the Caterham Formula One Racing team which he just sold in July, and is a key shareholder of the Premier League Football Team: Queens Park Rangers.

In response to the news of the missing AirAsia 8501, Sunday, Fernandes tweeted: “Our priority is looking after all the next of Kin for my staff and passengers. We will do whatever we can. We continue to pass information as it comes.”

According to the Flight Safety Foundation, since 1988, there have been 11 deaths associated with the Airbus 320-200, the same kind of plane involved in this latest disappearance. For comparison, a Boeing model of the same age and size has had fight fatalities over the same period of time.