AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes says the airline is not giving up on finding the missing victims from crashed flight QZ8501, despite flagging an end to the recovery mission.
The plane was en route from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore when it crashed into the Java Sea on December 28, killing all 162 people on board.
A total of 60 bodies remain missing.
Speaking in Sydney, Mr Fernandes said the airline was giving it “one last shot” at recovering those still missing.
“Our message is we’re not giving up,” he told reporters on Thursday.
“They (the families) know that because I am speaking to them every day.”
The airline’s message to families was “keep hoping, keep going”, he said.
“It is our responsibly to look after those families as best as we can,” Mr Fernandes said.
Mr Fernandes, in Australia to announce an airfare sale, said the QZ8051 recovery work would continue round the clock for seven to 10 more “operational days” before being shut down.
He said he was in “constant dialogue” with the families of those still missing, and that “contingencies” would be put in place should not all the bodies be located.
“QZ8051 was probably the worst moment of my life and it continues to be something that will haunt me forever,” he said.
Mr Fernandes would not be drawn on why the preliminary official report into the crash was not being made public.
Indonesian investigators earlier this year submitted the report into the plane crash to the International Civil Aviation Organisation, keeping its contents secret.
Mr Fernandes said it was “not right for him to say whether they should have or whether they shouldn’t have” publicised the report, adding there must have been a “valid reason” for the decision.
He also defended AirAsia’s safety record. “All I can say is that we’re regulated by lots and lots of authorities and no one has banned us from coming to their country,” he said.
Mr Fernandes also said he supported better aircraft tracking technology amid the ongoing mystery about the whereabouts of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
“I can’t see why data can’t be sent to the cloud every five minutes for instance,” he said.
“It’s ridiculous in this day and age that you can find your iPhone but we can’t find an aircraft.”