UN aviation body denies it closed Ukraine air route after crash

OTTAWA, July 18 Fri Jul 18, 2014 9:34am EDT

OTTAWA, July 18 (Reuters) - The International Civil Aviation Organization on Friday denied it had closed an air route over eastern Ukraine following the crash of a Malaysian airliner, saying it had no power to do so.

Malaysia's transport minister said earlier that the Montreal-based U.N. aviation body had shut the route after a Malaysia Airlines airliner was brought down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 298 people aboard.

"ICAO does not open or close routes. We do not have an operational role," chief ICAO spokesman Anthony Philbin told Reuters by phone. (Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)