Australia is still hopeful Malaysia Airlines flight 370 will one day be found as the latest search for the missing plane finishes.
Texas-based company Ocean Infinity will stop scouring the Indian Ocean’s seabed by the end of Tuesday after finding nothing, despite having its 90-day time limit extended twice.
After four years of searching Australian Transport Minister Michael McCormack said he remains hopeful the aircraft will “one day” be found.
Australia has been one of the main countries helping in the search for the Boeing 777 which vanished on 8 March, 2014, en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board.
Mr McCormack said it had been the largest search in aviation history and has tested the limits of technology and the capacity of experts and people at sea.
“Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the 239 people on board MH370,” a statement from his office said.
“We will always remain hopeful that one day the aircraft will be located.”
In January, Malaysia signed a “no cure, no fee” deal with Ocean Infinity to resume searching for the plane, a year after the official search of the southern Indian Ocean by Australia, Malaysia and China was called off.
The three countries agreed in 2016 that an official search would only resume if they had credible evidence which identified a specific location for the wreckage.
Last week, Malaysia said Ocean Infinity’s ship, Seabed Contractor, which operates underwater sonar drones, had searched more than 37,000 square miles (96,000 square kilometres) of sea.
Experts believe the most likely crash site was within a range of 9,650 square miles (25,000 square km) – roughly three times the size of England’s largest county, North Yorkshire.
The original search focused on the South China Sea but then analysts found the plane had made an unexpected turn west then south.
Australia coordinated a £113m search on behalf of Malaysia which scoured 46,000 square miles (120,000 square km) before it finished last year.
Danica Weeks, an Australian who lost her husband on MH370, called on Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to urge Malaysia’s new government to be more transparent about what they know of the disappearance.
“There’ve been so many theories and rumours and … we don’t know what is true and what isn’t,” she told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“I want Julie Bishop to say to the Malaysian counterparts now: What do you have? Where is the investigation at?”.
Last week, the director of the official hunt which ended in 2017 said he hoped Ocean Infinity would be successful.
“If they’re not, of course, that would be a great sadness for all of us,” Peter Foley said.