MH17 operator calls for agency to determine safe flight paths

Dunleavy says airlines alone cannot decide which volatile regions are safe to fly over

A senior executive with troubled Malaysia Airlines has called for the creation of a new body to decide which flight paths are safe in the wake of the MH17 tragedy in Ukraine.

Hugh Dunleavy, the company's commercial director, said that individual airlines could not be expected to make decisions on which volatile regions are secure to fly over.

Despite flying over a conflict zone, MH17's flight path had been approved by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the Ukrainian authorities and the European airspace service provider Eurocontrol, Mr Dunleavy said.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, he called for airlines and existing aviation bodies to “review existing processes and set more stringent standards”.


“Ultimately, we need one body to be the arbiter of where we can fly,” he said.

“This tragedy has taught us that despite following the guidelines and advice set out by the governing bodies, the skies above certain territories are simply not safe.

“MH17 has shown us that airlines can no longer rely on existing industry bodies for this information.

“No longer should airlines bear the responsibility of deeming flight paths safe or unsafe. We are businesses, not agencies.

“And it is not reasonable for us to assess all of the issues going on in all of the regions in the world, and determine a safe flight path.

“For the sake of passenger and crew safety we need to insist on a higher level of authority.”

Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur is widely believed to have been brought down by a surface-to-air missile fired by pro-Russian separatists fighting against the Ukrainian government, killing all 298 people on board.

The disaster on July 17th was the second major crisis involving the company this year after flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing went missing on March 8th.

It is believed to have crashed somewhere in the Indian Ocean, killing all 239 people on board, but an international search operation has so far failed to find the wreckage.

Mr Dunleavy said that despite the MH17 crash and the unsolved mystery of flight MH370’s disappearance, the carrier is working on “creating an airline fit for purpose in a new era”.

“As a company, Malaysia Airlines has twice been in a period of mourning this year but we will eventually overcome this tragedy and emerge stronger,” he said.

"Our majority shareholder, the Malaysian Government, has already started a process of assessing the future shape of our business and that process will now be speeded up as a result of MH17."