Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Government Reassures Families After Official’s Controversial Comments

November 15, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

Malaysia Airlines attempted to reassure families of the passengers on missing Flight MH370 after an official said the plane could be deemed “lost” by the end of the year.

In a statement, the airline wrote, “Recent speculation in the press regarding a declaration of loss followed the expression of a personal opinion only.”

“Any information regarding MH370, the search and recovery operations and any matters related to the missing aircraft will only be communicated by the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC).”

Last week, Malaysia Airlines director Hugh Dunleavy–the official in question–made the statement that the plane would be declared lost.

“Malaysia Airlines is hopeful that we will find closure to this tragedy and we support and thank our government as well as the governments of Australia and China for their invaluable assistance in this time of crisis,” the statement from Malaysia Airlines said.

“The airline shares the pain and anguish of family members in having to deal and come to terms with this situation, as such we have assured them that locating the aircraft and recovering the flight data recorders remain the key priority.”

Australian officials also gave its update on the progress so far, saying that 4,800 square kilometers have been searched so far.

“GO Phoenix continues to conduct underwater search operations in the assigned search area. A minor operational issue with the towfish led to a suspension of search operations on 8 November. The problem was remedied but severe weather prevented the safe relaunch of the towfish until 10 November,” it says.

It added: “In addition to locating the aircraft, the underwater search aims to map the MH370 debris field in order to identify and prioritise the recovery of specific aircraft components, including flight recorders, which will assist with the Malaysian investigation. The ATSB has utilised the data from the bathymetric survey work to prepare the initial plan for the underwater search, to be followed and referred to by all parties involved. The plan includes search timings, methods, procedures, safety precautions and the initial search areas for the various vessels.”

The Malaysian government has spent nearly $33.5 million in its search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 to date, according to reports this week. ransport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai confirmed that the sum was allocated for the search-and-rescue efforts.

The plane went missing March 8 with 239 people on board. To date, no sign of the plane has been found.