The search for AirAsia flight QZ 8501 was halted due to bad light at 5:30pm (9:30pm AEDT) Sunday night, Indonesian authorities said.
"We ended at 5:30 pm (9:30pm AEDT) because it was getting dark. The weather was also not too good as it was getting really cloudy," Indonesian Transport Ministry official Hadi Mustofa told AFP on Sunday night.
“Tomorrow we will begin at 7:00am, or even earlier than that if the weather is good.”
The AirAsia flight QZ 8501 lost contact with the Jakarta air traffic control tower just after 6am local time on its flight from Indonesia to Singapore.
A search and rescue operation was launched following its disappearance, which came after the pilot requested permission to change the height from 32,000 to 34,000 feet in the Kumai Strait near Belitung due to bad weather, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Just five minutes later, the tower in Jakarta lost contact with the aircraft, and a minute after that the plane had vanished from the radar.
The company stated that the Airbus A320-200 was carrying 162 people on board, including 16 children, an infant, two pilots and seven cabin crew, according to SMH.
The flight, en route to Singapore from Surabaya in Indonesia, was scheduled to arrive at 8.30am Singapore time, or 11.30am AEDST, however lost contact with Jakarta tower at 6:17am, and was officially reported missing at 7:55am Indonesian time.
It is believed at this time the plane would be over the Java Sea between Kalimantan and Java islands.
As a press conference, Indonesia's Minister for Transport, Ignasius Jonan, said the flight went missing between Tanjung Pandan and Pontianak, and was not far from the shoreline at the time it last made contact.
The search began where the aircraft went missing and intends to expand wider until something is found.
Search and rescue agencies were on the move from Singapore and civilian shipping was asked to provide any information if they saw anything, SMH reported.
The Minister of Transport also stated that hourly updates would be released with any new information that arises.
Indonesian vice-president Jusuf Kalla was reported by SMH announcing that there was a "high possibility that an accident has happened".
However, the head of Indonesia's national search and rescue agency Basarnas’, FHB Soelistyo, commented that Indonesia’s technology was largely unreliable, with sonars on their boats only reaching depths of around 200 metres.
Soelistyo said a command centre would be set up by 6am Monday in Pangkal Pinang, on one side of the Karimata Strait, the location where the plane was when it disappeared from radars, according to SMH.
Australia has offered to help Indonesia in the mission to find QZ 8501, with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop saying she had made “personal contact” with Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi following the disappearance of the plane.
"I have expressed our deep concerns for the passengers and crew on board that flight and our thoughts and prayers are with their families," she told reporters in Adelaide.
"It's always deeply concerning when you hear news such as this…we hope and pray that there will be survivors."
No Australians appear to have been on the flight, with Bishop saying she was seeking the flight manifest to check there were no dual Australian citizens or permanent residents on the flight.
An Emergency Call Centre has been established by AirAsia that is available for family or friends of those who may have been on board the aircraft.
The number is +622129850801.