Happy New Year everyone and welcome back. Unfortunately the festive break didn’t feel especially happy or merry for the travel industry, as we had to cope with the loss of flight QZ8501 and its 162 passengers and crew.
What has been heartening however, is the response from the general public. It seems that there is genuine sympathy for AirAsia, and recognition for its contribution to the region’s aviation industry. It would have been so easy for the world to write it off as “just another dodgy Asian airline”, but AirAsia deserves much better.
Why? Well, it has never had a single crash or lost a single passenger since Tony Fernandes took over and transformed the company in 2001. It was the ‘World’s Best Low Cost Airline’ (according to Skytrax) from 2009 to 2014 and has been filling Asia’s skies with scores of new, clean and reliable aircraft. If ever any airline deserved to be cut a little slack, it’s AirAsia.
Unfortunately, we are starting to see the conspiracy theorists rattle their keyboards in frustration at the lack of scandal. Firstly, AirAsia apparently didn’t have official permission to even operate the route on Sundays. Okay, but I fail to see how filling out a form would have prevented the crash, especially as the route has been operated safely on other days of the week.
Another report suggested that Tony Fernandes sold thousands of Tune Insurance shares in the week before the crash. Even if that is the case, to insinuate – in print, with only the most circumstantial of evidence – that there is some connection between the events, takes a monumental amount of cynicism.
But fortunately the majority of people have come out in support of AirAsia. As Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said; “This is not a mystery like the MH370 disappearance and it’s not an atrocity like the MH17 shooting down.”
No, it’s a tragic accident that could have befallen any airline. Of course more details may emerge over the coming weeks over the actions of pilots, but one must remember that through all the technical data about angles of ascent and whatnot, they were two human beings trying desperately to save their aircraft and passengers.
The loss of flight QZ8501 marked the end of a tragic year for the aviation industry, especially in Asia. Let’s hope for brighter skies in 2015.