KUALA LUMPUR -- The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has been suspended, nearly three years after the plane went missing over the Indian Ocean, authorities said on Tuesday.
"Despite every effort using the best science available, cutting edge technology, as well as modelling and advice from highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field, unfortunately, the search has not been able to locate the aircraft," said a joint statement from the transport ministers of Australia, China and Malaysia.
The statement also noted that the last vessel has left the underwater search area in the southern Indian Ocean.
A search team led by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has been combing an area of 120,000 square kilometers since late March 2014 to solve one of aviation's biggest mysteries.
The Boeing 777-200 aircraft with 227 passengers and a crew of 12 on board disappeared from radar shortly after takeoff on March 8, 2014, on a scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. More than half of the passengers were Chinese nationals, with the others coming from more than a dozen countries.
Satellite data has shown that the northbound plane made a sharp turn south, flying toward the Indian Ocean. Search authorities said they believe that the plane continued to fly for more than six hours after contact was lost. Data shows the aircraft entered the sea close to a long but narrow arc in the rough and remote area of the Indian Ocean.
So far, several pieces of debris from the ill-fated plane have been discovered on Reunion, an island east of Madagascar, and in Tanzania in East Africa, but none of the recovered pieces have indicated the specific location of the aircraft.
Authorities in Australia, China and Malaysia have warned since last July that the "likelihood of finding the aircraft is fading," and said the search would be discontinued after the completion of the 120,000 square-kilometer area.
"We remain hopeful that new information will come to light and that at some point in the future the aircraft will be located," the statement said.
The disappearance of Flight MH370 and the loss of another Malaysia Airlines plane, Flight MH17, which was shot down over Ukraine by pro-Russian separatists in July 2014, had led to the bailout of Malaysia Airlines by state fund Khazanah Nasional. The carrier, which is undergoing a five-year turnaround plan, is "making good progress" and on track to profitability in one or two years' time, Khazanah said on Friday.