PETALING JAYA - The search for missing Malaysian Airline flight MH370 could take a 'really long time', said Malaysia Airlines (MAS) commercial chief Hugh Dunleavy.
In an interview with London-based daily Evening Standard, Dunleavy said that when a plane hits the ocean, it is like hitting concrete.
"The wreckage could be spread over a big area. And there are mountains and canyons in that ocean.
"I think it could take a really long time to find. We're talking decades," he was reported as saying on Wednesday.
Addressing criticism on the airline's delay in releasing information on the missing plane, the 61-year-old said that it takes time to verify such information.
"You're calling pilots, explaining the situation, waiting for them to send out pings, doing the same to the next plane, then the next, and it's four in the morning, you don't have 50 people in the office, only a couple.
"An hour goes by frighteningly quickly - you realise that the missing plane is now another 600 miles somewhere else," he said.
Speaking on the Malaysian government's handling of the situation, Dunleavy rapped the Government for not informing MAS directly of the air turn back made by MH370.
"I only heard about this through the news. I'm thinking, really? You couldn't have told us that directly?
"Malaysia's air traffic control and military radar are in the same building. The military saw an aircraft turn and did nothing?" he said.
Dunleavy, however, conceded that the radars just identify flying objects and at the time there was no confirmation that it was MH370.
"It made people look incompetent, but the truth is, it's early in the morning, you're not at war with anyone, why would you jump to the conclusion that something really bad is now transpiring?" he questioned.
The MH370 incident have now prompted the airlines to install pioneering technology from Inmarsat, which would ensure that signals will be sent out if a flight deviates from its path.
"We will always remember MH370. We will take care of the people and we're working on what sort of a memorial we will have.
"But we are a business. We have to keep flying, we have 20,000 staff, shareholders, and 50,000 passengers each day.
"We owe it to them to get the airline back and move beyond MH370," the daily reported Dunleavy as saying.