An Airbus A340 AirAsia X passenger jet arrives on its inaugural flight from Kuala Lumpur to Paris Orly Airport February 14, 2011.
A request for change in altitude was the last communication from the missing flight QZ8501 of the AirAsia flying from Indonesia to Singapore. Reuters

Flight QZ8501 had sought an increase in altitude from 32,000 ft to 38,000 ft to "avoid clouds" before communication with the aircraft was lost, according to the Indonesian transport ministry.

It was between the Indonesian port of Tanjung Pandan and the town of Pontianak, in West Kalimantan on Borneo Island, when it went missing, Joko Muryo Atmodjo, air transportation director at the Transport Ministry, told reporters.

Bad weather could indicate the fate of Flight QZ8501, which has gone missing after taking off early on Sunday from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore.

Twenty three passengers had cancelled their trip aboard the missing flight.

The communication seeking change of flight path was made almost 42 minutes into the flight and just before it disappeared over the Java Sea.

The single-aisle Airbus A320-200 with 162 people on board lost contact with Jakarta air traffic control at 7:24am Singapore time (6:24pm Eastern Time Saturday), about an hour before it was scheduled to land in Singapore.

Authorities rule out the possibility of the flight still remaining in air saying it would have run out of fuel.

Three of the passengers were South Korean, a fourth from Malaysia and a fifth from Singapore. The rest of the passengers were Indonesians.

Air Asia said the plane had undergone its last scheduled maintenance on 16 November.

Air Asia has set up an emergency line for family or friends of those who may be on board. The number is +622 129 850 801.