Malaysia authorities said on Monday that the government has spent over 8.6 million dollars on the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 which disappeared carrying 239 passengers and crew on March 8.
Azharuddin Abdul-Rahman, Chief, Department of Civil Aviation said in Kuala Lumpur that the 8.6 million dollars was only the sum spent by Malaysian agencies.
He said government does not know how much other countries spent.
Azharuddin said Malaysian officials would travel to Australia on Tuesday and China later this week to discuss the latest analysis of satellite and other data being used to refine the new search area.
He said for now he could not say where the new search area would be, but stressed that it would not be very far away from where the search was now.
“The Australian and Malaysian investigators have done their analysis and are in the process of exchanging notes with Inmarsat,” he said.
Azharuddin said the search area has already been extended to a 60,000 kilometer zone and was being surveyed by a Chinese vessel.
He said it would then be searched by a commercial operator in a mission expected to start in August and take up to a year, at a cost of 55 million dollars or more.
Abdul Rahim Bakri Malaysia, Deputy Defence Minister, said that officials are opening the search operations to bids by private firms.
He said the costs would be shared equally by Malaysia and Australia governments.
The search for MH370 was already said to be the most costly in aviation history and spending would rise significantly as the search expands.