The disappearance, and likely crash, of AirAsia 8301 from Surabaya to Singapore has been well documented in the media, and we will not speculate on what happened to the aircraft. Those who lost loved ones want to know what happened as quickly as possible, and the media has a voracious appetite for information. While we have no answers as yet, we can look at what we do know, and in particular, how Air Asia is handling the situation.
Tony Fernandes, AirAsia’s CEO, has often been noted for his appearances with a bevy of attractive flight attendants at air shows and other industry events. But he is a “lead by example” style of CEO, and deserves praise for taking charge of the situation and doing everything he can during this disaster to provide information and support.
He flew to Surabaya and met with families, providing them whatever information that he has. Describing the situation as his worst nightmare on Twitter, he is demonstrating a genuine concern for customers and staff at the highest levels. But more importantly under his guidance, Air Asia has been open and responsive to the press with everything that it knows about the situation.
AirAsia immediately took to social media, tweeting facts about the missing aircraft and produced an extensive statement of facts regarding the crew and their qualifications, the aircraft and its prior maintenance history, the nationalities of the passengers and crew, as well as information about the flight up until the point contact was lost. This is a stark contrast to MH370, in which information was released slowly, creating an information vacuum from which conspiracy theories sprouted.
At this writing, we don’t yet know what happened to the aircraft. But we do know all of the relevant facts from AirAsia, which appears to be open and providing information as rapidly as possible.