Safety first, says IATA chief after tragedy

2014-07-18 21:04
(Dominique Faget, AFP)

(Dominique Faget, AFP)

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Montreal - The world's airlines put safety above all else, but depend on governments and air controllers to advise on the routes they fly, the head of International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Friday.

Reacting to the Malaysia Airlines tragedy in rebel-held eastern Ukraine, Tony Tyler said: "It's important that we're very clear: safety is the top priority."

"No airline will risk the safety of their passengers, crew and aircraft for the sake of fuel savings," said Tyler amid questions as to why airliners had routinely opted to overfly a known conflict zone.

"Airlines depend on governments and air traffic control authorities to advise which air space is available for flight and they plan within those limits," he said.

Airlines

US and European airlines were told in April by their respective civil aviation authorities to steer clear of the Crimean peninsula after Russia laid claim to its airspace.

But the no-fly order did not extend to other parts of eastern Ukraine, where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was allegedly hit by a missile filed by pro-Russian rebels on Thursday.

The US Federal Aviation Administration late on Thursday revised its Notice to Airmen, or Notam, to prohibit American airlines from all of eastern Ukraine.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Thursday that international air authorities had deemed the flight path over eastern Ukraine secure.

"The aircraft's flight route was declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)," he said in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

But ICAO spokesperson Philbin said the UN agency, which like IATA has headquarters in Montreal, "does not establish routes" for airlines to follow.

IATA represents around 240 of the world's airlines, including major carriers.

Read more on:    malaysia airlines  |  iata  |  ukraine  |  canada  |  malaysia  |  mh17  |  air crashes
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