Reportedly, the pilots asked to fly at a higher altitude (to avoid bad weather) shortly before it lost contact with air traffic control. However, no distress signal was sent. On Tuesday, Indonesian authorities confirmed that plane debris and bodies were found about ten kilometers from the location where the plane had lost contact with the radar off the coast of Kalimantan in the Java Sea. Pictures of floating bodies and debris were broadcast on local Indonesian television.

Head of Indonesia's National Committee of Safety Transportation, Tatang Kurniadi, said it is too early to detect electronic pings from the aircraft's black box recorder.

There were a total of 155 Indonesian passengers on board, three South Korean passengers, one Singaporean passenger, one British passenger, one Malaysian passenger, and a French pilot. It is the first time that Indonesia AirAsia, a low-cost carrier that is for 49 percent owned by Malaysia's AirAsia, has been involved in a serious incident. Malaysia's AirAsia is the world's largest budget airline and has been named the world's best low cost carrier by Skytrax for five consecutive years between 2009 and 2013.

AirAsia has opened an Emergency Call Centre - available for family and friends of those who have boarded the aircraft - which can be reached at: +62 21 2927 0811.

Earlier this year, another Malaysian airline (Malaysia Airlines) lost two aircraft. On 8 March 2014, flight MH370, carrying 239 passengers, went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in one of the most mysterious cases in the history of aviation. The aircraft is yet to be found. Then, on 17 July 2014, Malaysia Airlines' flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine (close to the Russian border where violent hostilities between the Ukraine government and pro-Russian separatists occurred in the aftermath of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution) killing all 298 people on board.