AirAsia Has Been A Very Safe Airline

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes
AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes poses in front of an AirAsia Airbus A320. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

The apparent loss on Sunday of AirAsia Flight 8501, en route from Indonesia to Singapore, was the first for the Malaysia-based low-cost airline.

It was also a rare mishap for the Airbus A320 aircraft, a plane that has accounted for less than 20 major mishaps since it entered service in 1987.

As noted, the A320 is a tough plane that’s designed to keep pilots and passengers well clear of trouble.

AirAsia was founded in 1996, but it was a struggling government-owned enterprise until it was acquired under the leadership of entrepreneur Tony Fernandes in 2001, who turned it into Asia’s premier budget carrier.

The plane that went down was operated by AirAsia’s Indonesia affiliate. It was a little over six years old and entered service in 2008.

While AirAsia has previous enjoyed a spotless safety record, Indonesian aviation commitment to safety has been questioned. Indonesian carriers were completely banned from flying to the European Union in 2007 after a series of fatal accidents, Business Insider reported in 2013 following the crash of a Indonesia-based Lion Air jet.

AirAsia 8501 vanished “less than an hour after taking off,” according to the Associated Press. There were 162 people on board.