Call for airline summit after downing of MH17

Monday 21 July 2014 20.50
Flight MH17 was shot down last week over a conflict region
Flight MH17 was shot down last week over a conflict region

Lufthansa has joined rival Emirates in calling for an airline summit to discuss the industry's response to the downing of an airliner over Ukraine.

Europe's largest airline by revenue said international security protocols should be reviewed.

Since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down last week, questions have been raised as to why passenger planes were flying over a region hit by fighting.

Head of Dubai's Emirates Airline Tim Clark yesterday said the International Air Transport Association (IATA) could call an international conference to see what changes need to be made in the way the industry tackles regional instability.

"We always put the safety and security of our customers and our crews first at the Lufthansa Group and so - needless to say - yes, we strongly support such a summit," a Lufthansa spokesman said.

The spokesman said airlines, industry organisations and government authorities would have to jointly review how they approach international security.

Data collected from flight tracking website FlightRadar shows Lufthansa was among the airlines to have flown most frequently over the Donetsk region in the week leading up to the downing of MH17.

Parts of Donetsk are controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

Lufthansa, which has defended its decision to fly over the area, said the disaster was of an entirely new magnitude.

"Never before has a commercial aircraft been taken down by surface-to-air missiles at cruising altitude on one of the world's busiest airways," the spokesman said.

IATA, which represents around 200 airlines, said its first priorities were to reunite the bodies of the victims with their families in a humane way and to ensure a successful investigation into the incident.

But it said it was gathering advice and facts from experts and that the tragedy must not be repeated.

"Once we are clear on the facts and we have expert analysis to guide us, the engagement will move to a higher level of global dialogue," a spokesman for the Geneva-based group said.