Jakarta/Indonesia: Air Asia didn’t have permission to fly from Surabaya to Singapore on Sunday, the day which the flight 8501 crashed into the Java Sea, and its flights along the route have been suspended, Indonesia’s transportation ministry said.
Saturday, shortly after Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said it had detected two large parts of the aircraft on the seabed, transport ministry spokesman J.A. Barata said the airline was only permitted to fly the route on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from late 2014 to early 2015.
“So Air Asia has committed a violation of the route that has been given to them,” Mr. Barata told The Wall Street Journal. He said the company’s flights from Surabaya to Singapore had consequently been suspended on Friday.
Tommy Soetomo, the head of state-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I, said Air Asia had a slot to fly on Sundays. But Mr. Barata said that information was outdated and that Air Asia should have returned the slot to the government based on the new permit. Before October, Air Asia had permission to fly daily flights to Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city, he said.
The Airbus A320, which had 162 people on board, lost contact with air traffic control early Sunday morning midway between Surabaya and Singapore. Saturday, the head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, Bambang Soelistyo, said sonar scans had identified two objects in about 30 meters of water that represent the main part of the aircraft.
“With the oil slick that we found and the discovery of the two big objects, I can confirm that this is the big part of the AirAsia plane we have been looking for all this time,” Mr. Soelistyo said, adding that a remotely operated vehicle would be sent to take pictures of the objects.