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article imageAirAsia flights from Surabaya to Singapore halted by Indonesia

By Nathan Salant     Jan 3, 2015 in Travel
Surabaya - Indonesia threatened Saturday to revoke AirAsia's permit to fly from Surabaya to Singapore in the wake of last week's loss of a jet with 162 people aboard.
Airline regulators in Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, said they were investigating whether AirAsia had approval to fly the Surabaya to Singapore route on Sundays, when the Dec. 28 flight disappeared from radar screens in a heavy storm.
The AirAsia jet is believed to have crashed into the Java Sea south of Borneo around a half-hour after taking off from Surabaya Juanda International Airport in stormy weather.
Recovery of the victims has been hampered by the weather, which has grounded helicopters, and only 30 bodies have been recovered so far, according to the Reuters news service.
AirAsia's continued existence as an airline could be impacted by the investigation, since its approval to operate appears to be in question.
"We are going to investigate all AirAsia flight schedules," Djoko Murdjatmodjo, Indonesia's acting director general of air transportation, told aid on Saturday that the transport ministry would investigate all AirAsia schedules from Monday.
"It is possible AirAsia's license in Indonesia might be revoked," he said.
Djoko Murdjatmodjo, the country's acting director general of air transportation, said on Saturday that the transport ministry would open an investigation into AirAsia schedules beginning Monday.
"We are going to investigate all AirAsia flight schedules," Murdjatmodjo said.
"It is possible AirAsia's license in Indonesia might be revoked," he said.
Sunu Widyatmoko, the head of Indonesia's AirAsia subsidiary, pledged that his airline would cooperate with all government inquiries.
"The government has suspended our flights from Surabaya to Singapore and back," Widyatmoko said.
"They are doing the evaluation process [and] AirAsia will cooperate fully with the evaluation," he said.
AirAsia subsidiaries also operate in Thailand, Philippines and India.
The storm continuing to range in the area is believed to have played a major role in the crash, since the pilot of the AirAsia jet had asked for a course change to help avoid the storm just moments before the plane disappeared.
Air traffic controllers in Surabaya initially turned down Flight 8501's request to change altitude from 32,000 to 38,000 feet because there was a lot of air traffic in the area, but moments later decided the plane could rise to 34,000 feet.
Officials said they did not know whether the plane heard that approval because it disappeared before pilots would have had time to acknowledge it.
An international team searching for wreckage from the plane are using remote underwater vehicles to find out if four large objects seen underwater are pieces of the lost plane.
"We have detected two objects underwater (at) 30 meters depth," search and rescue agency chief Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyos told Reuters.
"At this moment we are operating the ROV to take pictures of the objects," he said.
No survivors have been found.
Two of the 21 bodies removed from the sea Friday were still strapped in their seats, Reuters said.
The crash was the first ever for airliners flown by AirAsia group, a budget carrier that began operating in 2001.
Reuters also quoted a source close to the investigation as indicating that radar data appeared to show the plane attempting a steep climb in the last moments of the flight that might have exceeded the Airbus 320-200's operating capacity.
More about airasia, Flight 8501, Surabaya, Singapore, Borneo
 
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