Malaysia has signed a “no find-no fee” deal with Texas-based Ocean Infinity to locate the wreckage of downed flight MH370.
According to Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester, the Malaysian government accepted an offer from Ocean Infinity.
Ocean Infinity will foot the bill if it fails to find the wreckage.
A massive maritime search operation for the plane cleared 120,000 sq km at an estimated cost of about A$200 million ($157 million), before it was suspended in January.
The company has not revealed the estimated cost of the new search. According to Darren Chester, Ocean Infinity will focus on a 25,000 sq km area identified by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau as having a “high probability” of containing the aircraft.
Ocean Infinity is using a centuries-old model known in the salvage industry as “no cure-no pay” – a type of deal usually applied in the recovery of valuable sunken cargo.
Under such a deal, a salvage company will take on the financial risk of a recovery and recoup from the owner a percentage of the cargo’s value if it is found, often 80 or 90%.
MH370 was carrying passengers and crew from 14 different countries when it disappeared. Most were from China and Malaysia.
Australia led the initial search, after aviation officials identified the ocean floor off its coast as the likely location of the wreckage. The country has agreed to provide technical assistance for the new search, Darren Chester said.
Earlier this month, Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the government had received proposals from three private search companies – Ocean Infinity, Dutch firm Fugro and an unidentified Malaysian company.
Delivering its report into the MH370 disappearance earlier this month, Australia’s Transport Safety Bureau said it was “almost inconceivable” that the aircraft had not been found.