Indonesian airliner carrying 54 loses contact over Papua

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — An Indonesian airliner carrying 54 people was missing Sunday after it lost contact with ground control during a short flight in the country's easternmost province of Papua, an official said.

The Trigana Air Service plane was flying from Papua's provincial capital, Jayapura, to the Papua city of Oksibil when it lost contact with Oksibil's airport, said Transportation Ministry spokesman Julius Barata.

The ATR42-300 twin turboprop plane was carrying 49 passengers and five crew members on the scheduled 42-minute journey, he said.

The plane lost contact with the airport nine minutes before it was scheduled to land, Barata said.

Indonesia has had its share of airline woes in recent years. The sprawling archipelago nation of 250 million people and some 17,000 islands is one of Asia's most rapidly expanding airline markets, but is struggling to provide enough qualified pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and updated airport technology to ensure safety.