Australian officials announced on Wednesday that the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will not be expanded beyond its current zone unless there are specific new leads.
The Malaysian Airlines flight disappeared over the South China Sea on March 8, 2014 with 239 people on board shortly after departing from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to arrive in Beijing International Airport.
International search and rescue operations, led by Australian teams, have been trying to find evidence of the jet in one of the world’s roughest stretches of ocean for over a year. However, no clue has yet been found as to what exactly happened to the aircraft or where it may be.
Malaysia, Australia and China doubled the search area after the initial hunt failed to provide any result, but the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said there will not be further expansion.
"In the absence of credible new information that leads to the identification of a specific location of the aircraft, governments have agreed that there will be no further expansion of the search area," it said.
The hunt initially focused on a remote 60,000 square kilometre area of the ocean far off Australia's west coast, which had been pinpointed by satellite signals. So far, more than 50,000 square kilometres of the seafloor have been scoured using sonar equipment, without any trace of the jet.
JACC says approaching winter and poor weather slow down the search operation and it will continue once conditions improve.
"Safety of the search crews, as always, remains a priority and vessels and equipment utilised will vary to reflect operational needs, particularly during winter months," JACC said.
Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines' new chief executive said the company is “technically bankrupt” but can recover, after confirming plans to cut thousands of jobs.
Christoph Mueller said the airline, which had experienced two aviation disasters last year, will cut 6,000 of its 20,000 staff and sell two its A380 superjumbos to cut costs.
Malaysia Airlines received financial help from a government sovereign wealth fund, and will be restructured after parliamentary intervention to keep the airline going, allowing the remaining 14,000 staff to be re-employed by a new company running the airline from Sept. 1.
Apart from the mysterious disappearance of Flight MH370, another Malaysia Airlines passenger plane was shot down over war-torn eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board, last year.