PETALING JAYA: AirAsia group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes has dismissed Australian media reports on the behaviour of the crew on AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ535 during a mid-air emergency on Sunday.
He denied reports that the cabin crew were in a state of panic or were no help to passengers when the flight from Perth to Bali suffered a “technical issue” which forced the aircraft to make a sudden drop in altitude from 32,000 feet to 10,000 feet.
He released a series of tweets today in response to the media reports.
“It is frustrating when media twists stories. Our pilots and crew did a superb job. Plane lost pressure which happens to many aircraft.”
“Crew were not screaming but telling passengers as they had to sit down and belt up and get oxygen on for safety reasons.”
“Pilots in a controlled manner took the aircraft down to a safe altitude where oxygen was not needed and the aircraft lands safely.”
Stressing on the incident not being an isolated one, Fernandes said he had experienced the same before.
“Depressurisation happens. I have been in an another airline when that happened and pilots also did an excellent job and are trained for it.”
He also retweeted those who had sent out tweets in support of his views, quoting @Edmundq who said, “Looks like it took 10mins for the 22,000ft descent. Quite decent actually. No sudden drop like what @tonyfernandes said.”
“No, @AirAsia #QZ535 didn’t plunged, it’s controlled descend to go to breathable level. 20000 ft in 11mins. Media should revised they report,” was another message from user @chancheekhen.
On Sunday, the three-hour 45-minute flight departed Perth at 11.35am and was about 25 minutes into its flight, while still over Western Australia, when the mid-air emergency occurred.
Various Australian media reports highlighted how the massive drop in altitude caused oxygen masks to drop from the compartment above the passengers, who were naturally terrified with some turning to the cabin crew for reassurance but in vain.
The reports also stated how some of the 145 passengers on board the flight had complained that the crew were no help at all when the emergency situation occurred.
“The panic was escalated because of the behaviour of staff who were screaming, looked tearful and shocked.
“We looked to them for reassurance and we didn’t get any, we were more worried because of how panicked they were,” passenger Clare Askew was quoted as saying.
Another passenger said not knowing what was going on heightened fears.
“We didn’t know what was happening because all the voice recordings on the plane were in every language but English,” she said.
The flight turned around and returned to Perth, where passengers later boarded another aircraft provided by the low-cost carrier for the flight to Bali, Indonesia.