Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 will not end if the scouring of the current search area comes up empty.

Prior to Abbott's comments Sunday, it was unclear what would happen if searchers scouring a 60,000-square-kilometer (23,166-square-mile) swath of the southern Indian Ocean off Australia's west coast did not find the plane, which disappeared March 8, 2014. The search in that area is expected to end in May.

Abbott told reporters in Sydney that the search "can't go on forever, but as long as there are reasonable leads, the search will go on."

He said if the current search is unsuccessful, "there's another 60,000 square kilometers that we intend to search and, as I said, we are reasonably confident of finding the plane."