MAS fends off criticism over SMS notification to MH370 families

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) came under fire for choosing the impersonal method to contact the families, after the short messaging service (SMS) texts it sent was shared by news outlets and across social media yesterday. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Malaysia Airlines (MAS) came under fire for choosing the impersonal method to contact the families, after the short messaging service (SMS) texts it sent was shared by news outlets and across social media yesterday. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 — Malaysia Airlines (MAS) said it sent text messages informing families of those on board flight MH370 that the plane was assumed lost, only to supplement personal notifications and phone calls.

The airline whose plane disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board came under fire for choosing the impersonal method to contact the families, after the short messaging service (SMS) texts it sent was shared by news outlets and across social media yesterday.

Today, MAS explained that they had personally contacted and called the next of kin prior Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s announcement last night that satellite data showed the flight ended “somewhere in the Indian Ocean”.

“SMSs were used only as an additional means of communicating with the families. Those families have been at the heart of every action the company has taken since the flight disappeared on 8th March and they will continue to be so,” it said in a statement today.

MAS chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya previously gave his assurance that the families will be the first to know of new discoveries on the fate of MH370 and the people on board.

Yesterday, the airlines told relatives of the people who flew on MH370 are now believed to have died when the plane crashed, as investigators have concluded, into the Indian Ocean.

“Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived,” the text message read.

Search efforts are now converging in the south of the Indian Ocean where Australia has searched since March 20 for signs of the plane that has been missing for over two weeks.