KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — Malaysia hardly had to spend anything in the search for the missing Flight MH370 as most of the cost was borne by “third parties”, acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said today in the most expensive search in aviation history. He added that the only cost to the country was in the deployment of its national military assets.

“To be honest and to be very candid, (we have spent) hardly anything… considering nearly the whole fleet of P3 Orions, the Illusion from China and P8 Poseidon, as well as the vessels from China in first phase,” he told a news conference here. Hishammuddin said “third parties” have even volunteered to fund the new but “difficult transition phase” now focused wholly on deep-sea missions in the southern Indian Ocean. Australia, which is leading the search, has committed a ceiling amount A$89.9 million (RM272.3 million) for the next two years.

Hishammuddin, however, declined to disclose the identities of the third parties. “I can’t announce yet,” he said, before adding, “But tomorrow, I will be going to the UAE with the prime minister… early next week there is a meeting with the defence ministers of Asean in Myanmar and we will also have an official visit to China soon.” News wire Reuters estimated last month that the search for the missing airliner could reach up to US$44 million (RM143.45 milion) on the deployment of military ships and aircraft in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea by Australia, China, the United States and Vietnam.

The figure was tabulated based on defence force statistics on available hourly costs of various assets, estimates by defence analysts and costs reported by the Pentagon. According to the newswire, the figure for the first month of the search was about equal to the official €32 million (RM141 million) spent in searches lasting several months spread over a two-year time frame for Air France’s Flight AF447, which crashed into the Mid-Atlantic in 2009. CNN reported today that the search for MH370 could be delayed at least four days to allow repairs on a malfunctioning part on the Bluefin-21 submersible and a broken transponder aboard its Australian mother ship.

Quoting a US official, the American news agency stated that the Bluefin-21 and a navigation transponder were damaged when the submersible was being loaded onto the deck of Australia’s Ocean Shield. The Malaysia Airlines jetliner carrying 239 people went missing more than two months ago after leaving Malaysian shores, resulting in the largest international search mission the world has seen in the history of aviation disasters. Satellite and radar data have indicated that the jetliner went down in the wild waters of the Indian Ocean, thousands of miles away from the plane’s original flight path to Beijing. Despite a massive international search in the Indian Ocean, no trace of the missing Boeing 777 has been found.

— Photo By: Reuters pic

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