AirAsia Flight QZ8501: We have approvals to fly to Surabaya, says Tony Fernandes

The Transportation Ministry suspended AirAsia's flight permit for the Surabaya-Singapore route on Jan 2. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The Transportation Ministry suspended AirAsia's flight permit for the Surabaya-Singapore route on Jan 2. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

PANGKALAN BUN - AirAsia chief Tony Fernandes has never admitted that AirAsia has no permit to fly the Surabaya-Singapore route, his office said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We have the right to fly Surabaya-Singapore. We had flown that schedule and had rights for 7 days a week," the statement quoted Mr Fernandes as saying.

"We have secured both slots as well as approval from both Indonesia and Singapore. What happened was purely an administrative error," it added.

The statement comes after Indonesian Transport Minister Ignasius Jonas said on Tuesday that Mr Fernandes "had admitted AirAsia has no route permit".

The transportation ministry suspended AirAsia's flight permit for the Surabaya-Singapore route on Jan 2, after it was revealed that AirAsia allegedly violated operational procedures by flying on a Sunday when its licence only allowed it to fly on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

In October, the airline revised its route schedule to fly on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, without the required permission from the ministry, it was alleged.

Director-general of air transport Djoko Murjatmodjo said Air Asia's suspension would be till investigations were completed, while other airlines in the country would also be examined.

"We will carry out an audit or an evaluation on all airlines in Indonesia over whether there are any violations related to route, time and schedule," Mr Djoko said last week.

Mr Fernandes welcomed the evaluation in his statement.

"It is good that the Ministry of Transport is evaluating coordination between slot coordinator and airports so that we are able to prevent this from reoccuring," he said, according to the statement. "The process has become clear now. I also recommend what is being implemented in Singapore; an integrated computerised system so that everyone is on the same page."

chengwee@sph.com.sg

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