There is no more funding for the search of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 after the 2015-16 financial year in the Australian government’s 2015 federal budget.
The allocated $79.6 million will continue to fund the efforts until the middle of 2016, with the money to go towards increasing the search area by an additional 60,000 square kilometres to 120,000 square kilometres.
The Malaysian Airlines passenger jet disappeared on March 8 last year en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It has never been seen or heard from since. Investigators believe the most likely scenario is that the plane crashed into the Indian Ocean off Australia’s west coast.
The budget papers explain:
“The Australian Transport Safety Bureau will fund Australia’s contribution to the search from funding provided in the 2014-15 Budget measure titled Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 — search. The cost of this measure will be offset by financial contributions to the search from other countries. The actual cost will depend on a number of factors, including the length of the search,” reads the budgets statement.
The funding announcement follows a meeting of senior ministers from Malaysia, Australia and the People’s Republic of China on April 16.
While it doesn’t necessarily mean Australia will commit no further funding to the search after next year, it does reflect the likelihood of a wholesale reassessment of the approach to establishing the fate of MH370.
The ministers discussed the significant work undertaken to date – about 40% of the current search area is yet to be completed – and agreed a plan for for next steps in the search needed to be arranged.
“In the event the aircraft is found and accessible, Ministers agreed to plans for recovery activities, including securing all the evidence necessary for the investigation in accordance with the requirements of Annex 13 to the Chicago Convention,” reads a statement from the minister for infrastructure and regional development.
“Should the aircraft not be found within the current search area, Ministers agreed to extend the search by an additional 60,000 square kilometres to bring the search area to 120,000 square kilometres and thereby cover the entire highest probability area identified by expert analysis. Ministers recognise the additional search area may take up to a year to complete given the adverse weather conditions in the upcoming winter months. Upon completion of the additional 60,000 square kilometres, all high probability search areas would have been covered.”
March marked one year since the flight disappeared, making it the greatest aviation mystery of all time.
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