Flight QZ 8501, an Airbus 320-200, lost contact with the Jakarta air traffic control tower at 6:17 a.m. (2317 GMT), Indonesian Transport Ministry official Hadi Mustofa told media.
It had 162 passengers and crew on board, another Indonesian Transport official said.
Kuala Lumpur-based AirAsia confirmed its flight had lost contact with air traffic control and said a search-and-rescue operation had been launched.
Mustofa said the plane had asked for an unusual route before it lost contact.
Indonesian media said 149 Indonesians, three people from  Korea, and one each from Singapore, Britain and Malaysia were on board.
The flight had been due in Singapore at 8:30 a.m. Singapore time (0030 GMT). The Singapore airport said on its website the status of the flight was "delayed".
The incident comes at the end of a disastrous year for Malaysia's airlines. National flag carrier Malaysia Airlines lost two aircraft this year.

Its flight MH370 went missing on March 8 on a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board.
On July 17, Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

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