Skift Take

These will be heard as fighting words by IATA and other bodies that likely feel hamstrung by the web of competing regulations and commercial interests that govern how planes fly.

Malaysian Airline System Bhd., whose plane was shot down over Ukraine this month, said the aviation industry must act to create a system that will guarantee safe travel for all commercial carriers.

Airlines shouldn’t bear the responsibility of deeming flight paths safe or not, said Hugh Dunleavy, Malaysian Air’s director of commercial operations, said in a commentary in the U.K.’s Telegraph.

“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,” Dunleavy said. “For too long, airlines have been shouldering the responsibility for making decisions about what constitutes a safe flight path.”

Airspace over Ukraine was closed on July 18, a day after Malaysian Air’s jet carrying 298 people crashed following a suspected missile strike. The flight path had been declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Air Transport Association had said flying in the area wasn’t subject to restrictions, according to the carrier.

Malaysian Air uses information from relevant third-party authorities to determine whether a flight path is safe and suitable, Dunleavy said.

“Only if a route is deemed completely safe by the authorities will Malaysia Airlines proceed with its flight path,” Dunleavy said. He couldn’t be reached for a comment at his office in the Subang, Malaysia-based airline on a public holiday.

Turnaround Plan

The airline has been working on a turnaround plan, which will include taking the company private or allowing it to go bankrupt and then renegotiating union contracts, people familiar with the matter said last week. The proposal will be presented to its biggest shareholder, they said.

A new name may be considered for the carrier, the Telegraph and Financial Times also reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

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

Khazanah Nasional Bhd., Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund that owns 69.4 percent of the airline, said before the crash this month that the unprofitable carrier had enough funds to last only about a year. Flight 17 is Malaysian Air’s second disaster this year after its Flight 370 disappeared in March with 239 people on board en route to Beijing.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kyunghee Park in Singapore at To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anand Krishnamoorthy at

Subscribe to Skift Pro

Subscribe to Skift Pro to get unlimited access to stories like these ($30/month)

Subscribe Now

Tags: iata, malaysia airlines, mh17, safety

Photo Credit: Malaysia Airlines aircraft on the runway. Reuters