MOSCOW, November 11 (RIA Novosti) — Malaysia Airlines and Australian authorities have denied the reported comments by the airline’s commercial director Hugh Dunleavy that they plan to formally announce the loss of the MH370 flight by the end of the year.
Last week the New Zealand Herald daily quoted Hugh Dunleavy as saying that the officials were working to set a date, likely by the year-end, to formally announce the loss of the MH370 that went missing on March 8 with 239 people aboard.
"We don't have a final date but once we've had an official loss recorded we can work with the next of kin on the full compensation payments for those families," the newspaper quoted him as saying.
In a statement released on Monday, Voice370, an association of relatives of passengers onboard the missing plane, criticized the air carrier and said it “was bewildered” by the announcement.
“Such a unilateral declaration brings intense agony and confusion to family members and makes us lose faith in the search effort," said the statement.
In a statement issued on Monday, Malaysia Airlines distanced itself from Hugh Dunleavy's comments, saying it was his personal opinion and "ongoing search and recovery operations will remain and will not be discontinued", according to The Straits Times.
It added that any information regarding the missing plane will only be communicated by the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) in Australia. Officials at the JACC said Tuesday that Mr. Dunleavy's comments were "greatly disturbing for the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board MH370", reiterating Australia's commitment to the search.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing went missing on March 8 with all 227 passengers and 12 members of the crew. The plane allegedly disappeared into the southern Indian Ocean.