Malaysian Airline Flight 370 search and retrieval operation is officially suspended

An Australian ship searches for the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. | Reuters

In an announcement last Tuesday, the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has been indefinitely suspended but it does not necessarily mean that the case will never be reopened.

During a press briefing in Melbourne held the following day after the statement regarding the cancellation of the mission was made public, Darren Chester, Australia's transport minister, reiterated the open-endedness of the situation.

"It's not a closed book by any stretch," he said. "I don't rule out a future underwater search."

In retrospect, the suspension was not really a shock. After all, last summer, Australia, China and Malaysia have already shared that they plan a stoppage to the mission if no significant findings will emerge in the 120,000-square-kilometer "highest probability search area." The zone has already been scoured fully for months and months by patrols. But other industry people, as well as those who gather intel separate from the funded one, argue the possibility of the plane being somewhere outside the chosen region.

Tony Abbott, who was the prime minister at the time that the aircraft mysteriously disappeared after it took off from Malaysia, expressed his dismay via his official Twitter account. "Disappointed that the search for MH370 has been called off. Especially if some experts think there are better places to look," he wrote echoing the sentiments of a lot of people who are against the decision.

Needless to say, Chester adds that should some development arise during the search hiatus, they will be ready to get back on the mission to follow the lead. The only caveat is, he would not define what "credible new evidence" means, saying that they will know it when they see it.

"I am hopeful we'll have a breakthrough in the future," he added. "It's reasonable to expect there may be more debris uncovered in the weeks and months and possibly even years ahead which could lead to further information in solving this puzzle."

The analysis of debris and satellite imagery from various retrieval operations will continue even after the field operations have already stopped. It would be carried out by the ATSB (Australian Transport Safety Bureau) and was due to conclude by the end of next month.

"The decision to suspend the underwater search has not been taken lightly nor without sadness," the statement, which was issued to various media outlets, reads. "Despite every effort using the best science available, cutting edge technology, as well as modeling and advice from highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field, unfortunately, the search has not been able to locate the aircraft," the statement continues.