PETALING JAYA: The pilots and crew of AirAsia X Flight D7237 have done a “heroic job” to ensure the safety of all 359 people on board, says AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Fernandes revealed the names of the pilots – Capt Ibrahim and first officer Vincent, as well as Purser Ruijaruuneglai, saying he is “beaming with pride” at their leadership.
“AirAsia doesn’t make engines and all airlines have engine failures. But when it does happen it takes great pilots and great leadership in times of crisis,” he said, adding that videos showed that the captain’s announcement had kept the passengers calm.
Fernandes took a swipe at critics who blamed the captain for urging passengers on board to pray for their safety during the distressing incident.
“If it was a full service airline, the pilot would have been a hero. But because it’s a low- cost carrier, press and so-called experts make wild accusations and forget the heroics of our crew,” he said. He also thanked Australians who have praised the airline despite all the negative reports.
On Sunday, the flight, en route to Kuala Lumpur from Perth, had to return to Perth Airport due to a technical issue.
According to reports, the Airbus A330 was “shaking like a washing machine”.
AirAsia X Group CEO Datuk Kamarudin Meranun also stood by his team in a Facebook post, stressing that he would have done the same thing.
“What is wrong with asking for prayers in whatever religion when you are in a tight position, seeking divine intervention while doing whatever humanely possible?
“Making statements is always easy when you are safely on the ground,” Kamarudin wrote. He praised the pilot for remaining calm and in control of the situation, bringing the aircraft and its passengers to safety.
On Monday, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim criticised the pilot in a series of tweets, saying that it was irresponsible for the pilot to urge the passengers to pray while the plane experienced distressing technical difficulties. The former law minister continued to defend his remarks yesterday, arguing that it could imply that the situation was beyond saving.
“There was no need for the pilot to add more stress to his passengers,” Zaid wrote in his blog. His remarks have been widely slammed, and among those who rebuked him was Pasir Mas MP Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz.
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