AirAsia 'not giving up' on hunt for bodies
12 March 2015, 15:16
Sydney - AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes said on
Thursday he had not given up on finding more bodies from one of the airline's
jets that crashed in the Java Sea last year, but flagged the hunt will draw to
a close within weeks.
More than 100 bodies and the black box
recorders have been recovered since Flight QZ8501 went down in stormy weather
while flying from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore on 28 December,
killing all 162 people on board.
"My message is we're not giving up.
[The families] know that because I'm speaking to them every day,"
Fernandes told reporters in Sydney, adding that about 60 bodies had yet to be
found, including the captain.
"We have been successful from a sea
operation like this. To get more than 50% is considered a huge success."
But the Malaysian low-cost airline chief
said the search could not "go on indefinitely".
"There is a time period and we've
agreed with the families that this is obviously not something that can go on
indefinitely," he said.
"But it's important for us that the
families agreed on this and that's why I give them credit that they didn't keep
insisting that we go on forever.
"I'd say seven to 10 full operational
days and then we'll probably have to close it down."
Fernandes did not say when the last victims
had been found, but Indonesian authorities have reported far fewer discoveries
of bodies in recent weeks.
The Indonesian National Transportation
Safety Committee has so far shed little light on what caused QZ8501 to crash,
or what occurred in the moments before the tragedy.
It found the plane climbed from 32 000 feet
to well above 37 000 feet in 30 seconds, likely in an attempt to avoid a
menacing storm. It then quickly returned to 32 000 feet before
"gradually" descending towards the sea.
Indonesia will release the final report
into the crash by August, the transport minister told AFP in February.
Indonesia expansion plans
Fernandes, in Australia to announce new
flights from the country to Indonesia, said long-haul budget carrier Indonesia
AirAsia X was reviewing safety procedures and operations although nothing had
been changed as yet.
"There's no guarantee that AirAsia is
never going to have another incident again as I've always said from the
beginning, but what we'll do is we'll mitigate as much as possible," he
"We'll be transparent, we'll be open
and we're working very hard on that... we owe it to those families that
whatever we can possibly do to be the best, we will be the best, there's no
doubt about it."
Fernandes said AirAsia was still looking at
expanding its operations in Indonesia, with a view to using Bali as a hub
between flights from Australia to north Asia.
An Initial Public Offering for the
Indonesian unit of AirAsia was still on the cards, he added, saying that
"in the light of (QZ8501), the IPO approach also appeals to us because it
makes the airline more transparent".
"We are keeping all options
One year on from the disappearance of
Malaysian Airlines MH370, which had 239 passengers and crew on board, the
airline boss supported moves to enhance flight-tracking technology.
"It's ridiculous that in this day and
age we can't find [it]. Even with [QZ8501]... it still took the best part of
two weeks to locate it," Fernandes said.
"I can't see why data can't be sent to
the cloud every five minutes for instance."