AirAsia flight QZ8501: "Goodbye forever", joked passenger to friend before flight

Passengers at the AirAsia counters at Terminal 1 arrival hall. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN  
Passengers at the AirAsia counters at Terminal 1 arrival hall. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN  

SURABAYA - Before boarding a plane bound for Singapore to spend New Year's Day, one passenger joked to a friend: "Goodbye forever".

That plane was Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501, which went missing amid bad weather on Sunday. Search efforts to find the aircraft continue today.

The distraught friend, a man in his 20s, told Indonesia's TV One on Sunday that he had planned to go on the trip, but had to cancel it two weeks ago because he was busy.

"I have two friends who were with five family members. Yes, I planned to spend (New Year's Day) in Singapore actually. I hope for a miracle and may God save them all. I should have gone with them but I cancelled it two weeks ago as I had something to do," he said, bursting into tears.

He added: "This morning, before I went to pray, one of them called me and jokingly said: 'See you in the new year and goodbye forever'. That's all and then the bad news came."

There were 155 Indonesians on board the plane, as well as one Malaysian, one Briton, three South Koreans, a French co-pilot and one Singaporean, two-year-old Zoe Choi, who was travelling with her father, the British national.

dshea@sph.com.sg