Bodies from crashed AirAsia plane arrive in Indonesian city

admin   •   January 1, 2015   •   2020

Indonesian Search and Rescue crews unload one of two bodies of AirAsia passengers recovered from the sea at the airport in Pangkalan Bun, central Kalimantan December 31, 2014. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

(Reuters) – The first two bodies from the AirAsia plane that crashed off the coast of Borneo arrived on Wednesday in the Indonesian city of Surabaya, where relatives have gathered to await news of their loved ones.

Rescuers believe they have found the plane on the sea floor off Borneo, after sonar detected a large, dark object beneath waters near where debris and bodies were found on the surface.

Ships and planes had been scouring the Java Sea for Flight QZ8501 since Sunday, when it lost contact during bad weather about 40 minutes into its flight from Surabaya to Singapore.

Seven bodies have been recovered from the sea, some fully clothed, which could indicate the Airbus A320-200 was intact when it hit the water. That would support a theory that it suffered an aerodynamic stall.

Tatang Zaenudin, an official with Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, said earlier that one of the bodies had been found wearing a life jacket.

But he later said no victim had been recovered with a life jacket on.

“We found a body at 8.20 a.m. and a life jacket at 10.32 a.m. so there was a time difference. This is the latest information we have,” he told Reuters.

Two bodies, in coffins bedecked with flowers and marked 001 and 002, arrived by an air force plane in Surabaya.

Most of the 162 people on board were Indonesians. No survivors have been found.

HUNT FOR “BLACK BOX”

Hernanto, of the search and rescue agency in Surabaya, said rescuers believed they had found the plane on the sea bed with a sonar scan in water 30-50 meters (100-165 feet) deep.

The black box flight data and cockpit voice recorder have yet to be found.

Authorities in Surabaya were making preparations to receive and identify bodies, including arranging 130 ambulances to take victims to a police hospital and collecting DNA from relatives.

“We are praying it is the plane so the evacuation can be done quickly,” Hernanto said.

Strong wind and waves hampered the search and with visibility at less than a kilometer (half a mile), the air operation was called off in the afternoon.

“The weather today was really challenging in the field, with waves up to 5 meters high, wind reaching 40 km per hour (and) heavy rain, especially in the search area,” Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, the head of the search and rescue agency, told reporters in Surabaya.

He added that the plane’s whereabouts had not yet been confirmed and so the search for it would continue.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said his priority was retrieving the bodies.

Relatives, many of whom collapsed in grief when they saw the first grim television pictures confirming their fears on Tuesday, held prayers at a crisis center at Surabaya airport.

“UNBELIEVABLY” STEEP CLIMB

The plane was traveling at 32,000 feet (9,753 meters) and had asked to fly at 38,000 feet to avoid bad weather. When air traffic controllers granted permission for a rise to 34,000 feet a few minutes later, they received no response.

The pilots did not issue a distress signal.

A source close to the probe into what happened said radar data appeared to show that the aircraft made an “unbelievably” steep climb before it crashed, possibly pushing it beyond the Airbus A320’s limits.

“So far, the numbers taken by the radar are unbelievably high. This rate of climb is very high, too high. It appears to be beyond the performance envelope of the aircraft,” he said.

The source, who declined to be named, added that more information was needed to come to a firm conclusion.

Online discussion among pilots has centered on unconfirmed secondary radar data from Malaysia that suggested the aircraft was climbing at a speed of 353 knots, about 100 knots too slow, and that it might have stalled.

The Indonesian captain, a former air force fighter pilot, had 6,100 flying hours under his belt and the plane last underwent maintenance in mid-November, said the airline, which is 49 percent owned by Malaysia-based budget carrier AirAsia.

Three airline disasters involving Malaysian-affiliated carriers in less than a year have dented confidence in the country’s aviation industry and spooked travelers.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing in March on a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew and has not been found. On July 17, the same airline’s Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

On board Flight QZ8501 were 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans, and one person each from Singapore, Malaysia and Britain. The co-pilot was French.

The AirAsia group, including affiliates in Thailand, the Philippines and India, had not suffered a crash since its Malaysian budget operations began in 2002.

(Additional reporting by Gayatri Suroyo, Kanupriya Kapoor, Michael Taylor and Charlotte Greenfield in JAKARTA/SURABAYA, Jane Wardell in SYDNEY and Anshuman Daga in SINGAPORE; Writing by Mark Bendeich and Robert Birsel; Editing by Nick Macfie/Mike Collett-White/Susan Fenton)

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Gov’t, private sectors unite to bring over 10,000 foreign tourists to NAIA, Clark Int’l Airport

Maris Federez   •   March 25, 2020

Passengers rush to catch last plane out amid lockdown in the Philippines (19 March 2020)

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT), together with several government agencies and various domestic airlines, have joined forces to ferry more than 10,000 foreign tourists from different parts of the country to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Clark International Airport.

This measure is aimed at assisting these foreign tourists who were stranded in the country due to the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine to be able to go back to their respective countries.

DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said this will help lessen the stranded tourists in the various islands in the country.

“The Department of Tourism has been doing everything within its resources to ease the congestion in the different regions by facilitating the movement of foreign tourists stranded in the different islands of the country,” Puyat said in a statement.

Over the weekend, 7,915 tourists were brought to the two airports through the sweeper flights of different domestic airlines, such as Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Air Asia, and Air Swift, as well as chartered flights.

DOT regional offices also assisted the stranded tourists in Luzon via land transport.

The Philippine Coast Guard, on the other hand, helped ferry those in Bohol, Siquijor, Negros, and Cebu through inter-island vessels.

Shuttle services and hotel accommodations were arranged for several stranded tourists who were also given free foods and hygienic items while waiting for their flights at the NAIA.

Other sweeper flights were also used for those in Iloilo, Tacloban, and Cagayan de Oro.

Three more sweeper flights are also being prepared for the others in Davao and Puerto Princesa to be transported on Thursday (March 26).

Two sweeper flights are also scheduled for tourists on Boracay island for transportation on Thursday, and four more over the weekend. — (from the report of Asher Cadapan, Jr.) /mbmf

AirAsia cancels selected flights to South Korea

Marje Pelayo   •   March 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Malaysian low-cost airline, AirAsia, announced on Tuesday (March 3) the cancellation of several flights to South Korea in compliance with the Philippine government’s directive imposing travel restrictions due to public health risks associated with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Due to the current public health situation, AirAsia is cancelling some of its flights between the Philippines and South Korea until further notice from the government.

Flights affected include the airline’s Manila and Seoul-Incheon; Cebu and Seoul-Incheon; Kalibo and Seoul-Incheon as well as Kalibo and Busan.

FLIGHT NO. DEPARTURE ARRIVAL CANCELLED DATES
Z2 38 Kalibo Seoul-Incheon March 4 – March 28 Cancelled on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays  
Z2 39 Seoul-Incheon Kalibo March 4 – March 28 Cancelled on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays  
Z2 58 Kalibo Busan March 7 – March 28 Cancelled on Saturdays  
Z2 59 Busan Kalibo March 7 – March 28 Cancelled on Saturdays  
Z2 7046 Cebu Seoul-Incheon March 3 – March 28 Cancelled on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays  
Z2 7047 Seoul-Incheon Cebu March 3 – March 28 Cancelled on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays  
Z2 888 Manila Seoul-Incheon March 4 – March 28 Cancelled Daily  
Z2 889 Seoul-Incheon Manila March 4 – March 28 Cancelled Daily

Meanwhile, flights to South Korea coming from Clark International Airport will continue as it is, as well as selected flights from Manila, Cebu, and Kalibo.

Passengers are advised to check on their flights via the “Flight Status” function on the airasia.com website and mobile app.

AirAsia assured that all affected guests will receive a prompt notification via email or SMS.

The airline added that it is complying with advice and regulations from the local government, civil aviation authorities, global and local health agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO).

For additional information on flight cancellations, AirAsia advises clients to refer to the company’s official website.

AirAsia cancels PH flights to Taiwan amid novel coronavirus travel ban

Robie de Guzman   •   February 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – AirAsia on Tuesday, February 11, announced the cancellation of its flights between the Philippines and Taiwan in compliance with the Philippine government’s expanded travel restrictions to China and its regions that were affected by the outbreak of novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV-ARD).

In an advisory, the AirAsia said that flights going Taiwan (Taipei and Kaohsiung) are now cancelled until further notice.

The airliner previously cancelled flights from the Philippines to and from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao until March 2020.

AirAsia guests affected by the flight cancellations and travel restrictions may choose from the following options:

  • Move flight: One-time flight change to a new travel date on the same route within 30 calendar days beginning 29 March 2020 from original flight time without additional cost, subject to seat availability. Applicable for guests affected by cancelled flights and travel restrictions imposed.
  • Credit account: Retain the value of your fare in your AirAsia BIG Loyalty account for future travel with AirAsia. The online credit account is to be redeemed for booking within 90 calendar days from the issuance date for your travel with us. The actual travel dates can be after the expiry date as long as our flight schedule is out. This is applicable for affected flights to/from mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong SAR, and Macao SAR until 28 March 2020.
  • Full refund: Obtain a full refund to your original payment method for the amount equivalent to your booking. Applicable for affected flights to/from mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong SAR, and Macao SAR until 28 March 2020.

AirAsia said guests whose flights fall into the above date range can obtain a full refund in the amount equivalent to that booking in the form of original payment. Refund requests can be made with AVA at support.airasia.com. 

For bookings made through travel agents including online travel agents, refund requests are to be made via the respective travel agents.

AirAsia also strongly encourages its guests to update their contact details to ensure that they receive timely notifications.

The airline company’s action follows the Department of Health’s announcement Monday that Taiwan is covered in the expanded travel ban in an effort to curb the spread of novel coronavirus.

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