MH17 crash could have been prevented if airlines shared information regarding weapons in Ukraine, claims Emirates CEO

298 passengers and crew members died on board the flight in July

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An airline boss has suggested that the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 could have been prevented if airliners had shared information regarding missiles in Ukraine.

Sir Tim Clark said there had been evidence of weapons in the area for weeks - a fact that some carriers appeared to know as they had been avoiding the area.

However, this information was not shared with most airlines flying across Ukraine, he added.

He went on to suggest that if the entire airline industry was alerted, pilots would likely have been told to avoid the dangerous airspace – potentially saving the 298 passengers and crew members who died on board flight MH17 in July.

His comments come after a report published last week highlighted the fact that three other passenger jets were in same area at around the same time as MH17 when it crashed.


Sir Tim is now calling for a body to be set up to warn airlines if there are any risks to aircrafts in a section of airspace.

Currently, individual airlines use information from local air traffic controllers and their own government to decide whether to travel over a war zone. There is no obligation for airlines to share this information. 

Speaking to the BBC, Sir Tim said: "There was evidence that these missiles had been on site, in situ for a number of weeks beforehand.

"Emirates did not know of that fact, and I don't think many others did. Had we known that, we would probably have reacted in a manner that would have seen a complete avoidance of Ukrainian airspace, probably as an industry.

"We have a concern that information was known by certain stakeholders... and should have been passed... at least to the industry, to the organisations that regulate the industry.

"We understand now that certain carriers were aware of that and had already taken avoidance action."

British Airways was among the airlines avoiding Ukrainian airspace for weeks. But in a recent interview with the broadcaster, Willie Walsh, CEO of the company which owns British Airways said the decision was based on publicly available information.