The latest search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 will end next week, Malaysia’s new transport minister said.
Malaysia signed a “no cure, no fee” agreement with Texas-based Ocean Infinity in January to resume the hunt for the plane, a year after the official search in the southern Indian Ocean by Australia, Malaysia and China was called off.
Transport minister Anthony Loke said that the latest search was due to end in April but was extended twice until May 29 at Ocean Infinity’s request.
He said the government will decide its next course of action next week.
The Malaysia Airlines plane vanished on March 8 2014 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.
So far the search has not turned up anything that could shed light on one of the world’s biggest aviation mysteries.
Mr Loke said: “There will be no more extensions. It cannot continue forever. Let’s wait until May 29 and we will then decide how to proceed.”
Under the deal, the government would pay Ocean Infinity up to 70 million dollars based on the size of the area searched if the mission was successful within three months.
Officials have said there was an 85% chance of finding the debris in a new 25,000-square kilometre (9,650-square mile) search area identified by experts.
The official search was extremely difficult because no transmissions were received from the aircraft after its first 38 minutes of flight.
Systems designed to automatically transmit the flight’s position failed to work, according to a final report issued in January 2017 by the Australian Transport Safety Board.
Voice 370, which represents families of those aboard the flight, in a statement urged the new government to review all matters related to the jet’s disappearance, including “any possible falsification” or elimination of maintenance records and any omission that may have impaired tracking, search, rescue and recovery of the plane.
Mr Loke said the new government, which took power after the May 9 elections, is committed to transparency and will release details for public scrutiny in due time.