Prime Minister Datuk Najib Razak said he had not been fully briefed on the aircraft's disappearance, but acknowledged that the country may be facing its third aviation disaster in the year, after the loss of two Malaysia Airlines aircraft in March and July.
"I don't have much detail yet on what happened, but there is a very big possibility that a tragedy has occurred. We will do all we can to help find out what happened," Strait Times quoted Razak as saying.
Flight QZ8501, carrying 162 people, lost contact with Jakarta air traffic control just after 07:24am local time, a transport official told local media.
Contact with the plane was lost 42 minutes after takeoff. There were no Indian nationals on board.
The plane took off from Surabaya (Indonesia) at 5.20 am local time and was scheduled to land at Singapore's Changi Airport at 8.30 am.
The loss of contact with the AirAsia plane comes nearly 10 months after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370, which dropped off radar over Southeast Asia on March 8.
Searchers are yet to find any debris from Flight MH 370, which officials believe crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.
The beleaguered Malaysia Airlines was hammered by the loss of another Flight MH17 which was apparently shot down over Ukraine in July, killing all the 298 people on board.

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