Search for MH370 comes to an end

Missing plane MH370 RNZAF Orion shadow (Reuters)
Next-of-kin were informed of the decision to suspend the underwater search on Tuesday (Reuters / file)

The search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has finally drawn to an end, almost three years after the plane vanished.

There were 239 passengers and crew on board the flight, which disappeared on March 8 2014 on a flight from Kuala Lumpar to Beijing.

Next-of-kin were informed of the decision to suspend the underwater search 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," a joint statement from the transport ministers of Australia, Malaysia and the People's Republic of China reads.

"The decision to suspend the underwater search has not been taken lightly nor without sadness."

The intense underwater searched involved 120,000 square kilometres of the southern Indian Ocean, but it's turned up few traces of the plane.

In their statement, the ministers said they have been "overwhelmed" by the commitment and dedication shown by those involved in the search.

"Their tireless work has continued to improve our knowledge of the search area and has been critical in our efforts to locate the aircraft," they said.

"We would like to reiterate our utmost appreciation to the many nations that have provided expertise and assistance since the early days of this unfortunate tragedy."

Some pieces of debris from the jet have previously been found, including a large segment of an outboard flap which was found on Pemba, off the coast of Tanzania, last year.

But they've failed to help in the location of the main wreckage, and now its final resting place may never be known.

Two Kiwis were on board the doomed flight.