The Malaysian government has officially declared the disappearance of Malaysian Airline flight MH370 an accident and says there were no survivors.
No trace of the Beijing-bound aircraft has been found since it disappeared on 8 March 2014.
Officials say that the recovery operation is ongoing but that the 239 people onboard are now presumed dead.
The plane’s whereabouts are still unknown despite a massive international search in the southern Indian Ocean.
The declaration on Thursday should allow compensation payments to relatives of the victims.
Malaysian officials said that the recovery of the missing aircraft remained a priority and that they had pursued “every credible lead”.
Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) Director-General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said that it was “with the heaviest heart and deepest sorrow that we officially declare Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 an accident.”
“All 239 of the passengers and crew onboard MH370 are presumed to have lost their lives,” he said.
Following Thursday’s announcement, China’s foreign ministry called for compensation for the victims’ families.
“We call on the Malaysian side to honour the promise made when they declared the flight to have been lost and earnestly fulfil their compensation responsibilities,” spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.
The majority of the passengers on MH370 were Chinese.
Despite Thursday’s announcement, the Malaysian authorities are not ruling out foul play, reports the BBC’s transport correspondent Richard Westcott.
He says it is a legal move designed to help families claim compensation.
Malaysia Airlines said they would be contacting the families to proceed with the compensation process.
But in China, some family members refused to accept the official position that the plane was lost.
“They have found nothing,” said Li Jingxin whose brother is missing.
“With nothing found, how can they make any announcement?”
He told the Associated Press news agency that his family would not accept compensation from the airline at this time.