Arriving from church I was shocked to read the news that an Air Asia plane from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore was missing this morning. I can relate with the news because I have been flying Air Asia from Yangon to Bangkok and back, every time I have to renew my immigration stamp to extend my stay in Myanmar. Flying is part of my job as I work in various parts of Southeast Asia and it will remain for several years, unless I shift to a work that does not require flying.

I believe the assumption that commercial planes are safer compared to other means of transportation like cars or ships. I feel more nervous riding a speeding jeepney zigzagging along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, Philippines. This year however, the region has been plagued by a series of plane disappearances and accidents. Malaysian Airlines lost a plane and another was shot down flying above Ukraine airspace. In Myanmar, a Golden Myanmar Airlines plane collided with that of Myanmar Airlines International in the tarmac of Yangon International Airport. And now, the disappearance of Air Asia flight from Surabaya. We do not know the exact causes of these accidents, whether human error or forces beyond the human control.

As early as this time, some people are speculating that it may have been hijacked as the pilot requested an unusual change of route before it disappeared. Whatever happened to the plane, my prayer is always for the passengers to be out of harm’s way. We do not want people to lose their loved ones, nor do we want the passengers to be pawns to some people’s political or religious agenda.

The airline industry should also ensure that security is a top priority of all stakeholders – airline companies, airport management, the government and the international organizations. Accidents do happen and when it does, the response should be immediate, relevant and sensitive to the needs of the passengers and their families. For now, I will just assume that commercial planes are really safer.