Malaysia Airlines has asked relatives of passengers on board flight MH370 to leave the hotel accommodation it is providing and return to their homes.
It is closing the family assistance centres set up after the plane vanished on 8 March with 239 people on board.
The airline promised to keep relatives updated on the search operation.
Meanwhile, a report by Malaysia’s transport ministry has shown a four-hour gap between MH370′s disappearance and the start of a search operation.
The report also revealed that air traffic controllers did not realise the plane was missing until 17 minutes after it disappeared off radar.
The plane disappeared over the South China Sea as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Officials believe it ended its journey in seas west of the Australian city of Perth, thousands of kilometres off course, but do not yet know why. An intensive multinational search has so far turned up no sign of the plane.
On Thursday, Malaysia Airlines said in a statement that despite “probably the largest (search) in human history… the fate of the missing passengers and crew remains unknown.”
“Malaysia Airlines is acutely conscious of, and deeply sympathetic to the continuing unimaginable anguish, distress and hardship suffered by those with loved ones on board the flight.”
But it warned that the continuing search would be a “prolonged process”.
“Instead of staying in hotels, the families of MH370 are advised to receive information updates… within the comfort of their own homes.”
All family assistance centres would be closed on 7 May, but the relatives would be given updates through telephone calls, messages, the internet and face-to-face meetings, Malaysia Airlines said.
It would soon make “advanced compensation payments” to the passengers’ nominated next-of-kin, “in order to meet their immediate economic needs”, it added. The payments would not affect their rights to claim further compensation at a later stage, it said.
The families have been critical of the initial search process and the way they have been kept informed, with many accusing the Malaysian authorities of concealing information. BBC