At USD 53 mn, hunt for Malaysian Airlines plane MH370 is most expensive yet

Kuala Lumpur: After four weeks, the search and investigation into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has become the most expensive in aviation history.

Relatives hold a prayer session at a hotel in Beijing, as the search for plane moved underwater. Pic/Imagelibrary/EPA
Relatives hold a prayer session at a hotel in Beijing, as the search for plane moved underwater. Pic/Imagelibrary/EPA

According to Sydney Morning Herald, the estimated cost has surpassed the $50-million mark that was spent on the two-year probe into Air France flight 447, which disappeared into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, has claimed the government is deliberately concealing information that would help to explain what happened to the missing flight.

The biggest expense in the search has involved ships, satellites, planes and submarines deployed first in the South China Sea and the Malacca Straits, and then in the remote reaches of the southern Indian Ocean.

HMAS Success, the Australian navy replenishment vessel deployed two weeks ago, costs about $550,000 (Rs 3.3 crore) a day to operate, a defence spokesperson said.

HMAS Toowoomba was diverted a week ago to join the hunt for MH370 and has direct costs - fuel, supplies, wages of the crew - of $380,000 (Rs 2.3 crore) a day. Combined, the two vessels have cost more than $10 million while in the Indian Ocean. As many as 12 aircraft scour the seas for debris from the plane each day.

Geoff Dell, an expert from Central Queensland University, said the the cost of the aircraft flying daily 10-hour sorties would comfortably amount to $1 million (Rs 6 crore) a day. Over four weeks, a conservative estimate of the cost of the airborne search - excluding the US planes - would be $25 million (Rs 150 crore) so far.

The only other explicit cost figure is the $5,000 offered by the Malaysian government for the 227 passengers (not crew), which amounts to $1.25 million (Rs 7.5 crore). Taking the known costs and the estimate of the airborne search, it amounts to $53 million (Rs 318 crore). There is also the cost of the analysts, police and crash investigators from Malaysia, the US, Britain and France.

Cost the US Navy has allocated to the search

Amount Vietnam has spent searching for the plane in the South China Sea

Amount handed out to families of the flyers

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