Malaysia Airlines CEO bats away criticism, says passenger relatives top priority

Malaysia Airlines CEO bats away criticism, says passenger relatives top priority
Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ahmad Jauhari Yahya speaks to journalist during an interview inside a hotel in Kuala Lumpur April 5, 2014.

KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysia Airlines chief executive said on Saturday the airline's role was to take care of the families of passengers who were on its missing jetliner and that it had curbed its advertising out of respect for their well-being.

Malaysia Airlines and the Malaysian authorities have faced heavy criticism, particularly from China, for mismanaging the search and holding back information. Most of the 239 people on board the missing flight MH370 were Chinese.

Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said it was "beyond any reasonable doubt the aircraft was lost". On Monday, it will be 30 days since the jetliner lost communications and disappeared from civilian radar. "Our role is basically to take care of the needs of the families and relatives," he told Reuters, saying no efforts were being spared to ensure their "emotional and financial health".

But he said he understood the families' frustration. "The lack of answers is not giving comfort to anyone, especially for the families. The families want answers. Sometimes, answers are something we can't give."

Malaysia Airlines has given initial financial assistance of $5,000 per passenger to their immediate families and put the families up in hotels in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, but has been the target of angry protests in China.

Four weeks after the disappearance of the jetliner, searchers have launched the most intensive hunt yet in the southern Indian Ocean, trying to find the plane's black box recorders before their batteries run out.

Up to 10 military planes, three civilian jets and 11 ships will scour a 217,000-sq-km (88,000-sq-mile) patch of desolate ocean northwest of Perth near where investigators believe the plane went down on March 8 with the loss of all on board.

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