Malaysia's new Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook said on Wednesday that the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will end on May 29, as the U.S.-seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity is about to complete the search area but has not locate any major finding so far.
The search will continue until May 29, after which there will be no extensions, Anthony Loke said at a press conference, adding that he was told that the firm was very confident to finish the search within 90 days.
The announcement came as the new government, led by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, announced a slew of measures to control government spending as it is faced with high-level debt. Mahathir told reporters earlier that the new government would review, and possibly terminate the agreement reached between the previous government and Ocean Infinity. "If we find it not necessary, we will not renew," Mahathir said.
The agreement signed between the two parties grants the U.S. firm 90 days to locate the missing aircraft on a "no cure, no fee" basis. If the wreckage or the black box were found, Malaysia will pay the firm up to 70 million U.S. dollars, subject to the size of the actual search area.
Since the search started in January, the exploration search vessel Seabed Constructor, along with the several Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, has covered some 86,000 square km, according to latest search report released by the firm on May 15. The ship, which also made several stops in Australia for refueling and resupply, was previously scheduled to finish the search in June.
MH370, carrying 239 on board, went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014.