Flight MH370

Malaysia Airlines flight 370

Australian government budgets A$90m in search for flight MH370

Canberra's bill will rise to A$90m in hunt for missing Malaysian airliner

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 May, 2014, 12:17am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 May, 2014, 12:17am

Australia's contribution to the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane will reach A$90 million (HK$652 million) over the course of two years, according to Prime Minister Tony Abbott's government.

It has already spent A$36 million and a further A$54 million has been set aside for 2014/15.

The spending on the hunt for flight MH370 was detailed in Australian budget proposals for the coming financial year, which include deep cuts to government spending.

The infrastructure department will pay A$1 million towards the cost of the Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre in Perth, and A$3 million will come from the defence budget. The transport safety bureau secured an extra A$50 million for all other associated costs until next year.

Malaysia's acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, said Malaysia would look to share future operational costs with neighbouring countries, The Star newspaper reported.

"Before this, there has been no talk of dollars and cents, but to be fair to our partners [in the search], it is time for us to look at it more seriously as we go in for the long haul," Hishammuddin said.

The disappearance of MH370 on March 8 triggered a new urgency to fill safety loopholes - from aircraft tracking systems to passenger identity checks.

The Boeing 777 departed Kuala Lumpur with 227 passengers and 12 crew aboard. The jet deviated from its course and flew for several hours "in the dark" - an aviation term for being out of contact or incommunicado. A multinational air and sea search of the southern Indian Ocean has failed to locate the aircraft.

Inmarsat, a British firm with one of the world's largest satellite communication networks, said on Monday it had recently proposed a free-of-charge tracking service to the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Around 11,000 commercial passenger jets fitted with Inmarsat satellite communication devices are eligible for the offer.

Professor Zhang Xuejun, of Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, said Inmarsat's free offer was welcome.

"How to maintain constant communication with long-distance flights over oceans has been a headache," he said.

Meanwhile, Malaysian carrier AirAsia is to become the first airline to check passports of all its passengers against Interpol's database of 42 million stolen or lost travel documents. Two passengers thought to have been on board MH370 turned out to be not even in Malaysia when the flight took off. Both had reported their passports stolen.

Additional reporting by Associated Press