* GRAPHIC-Flights around Donetsk
BERLIN, July 21 Lufthansa, Europe's
largest airline by revenue, joined rival Emirates in calling for
an airline summit to discuss the industry's response to the
downing of an airliner over Ukraine, saying 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.
Tim Clark, head of Dubai's Emirates Airline, on
Sunday said the International Air Transport Association (IATA)
could call an international conference to see what changes need
to 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
told Reuters on Monday.
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 Flight Radar
shows Lufthansa was among the airlines to have flown most
frequently over the Donetsk region, where some parts are
controlled by pro-Russian separatists, in the week leading up to
the downing of MH17.
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.
In response to the calls for a summit, IATA, which
represents around 200 airlines, said its priorities were to
first reunite the bodies of the victims with their families in a
humane way and to ensure a successful investigation into the
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.
Joerg Handwerg, from German pilots' association VC Cockpit
said it was crucial that industry bodies agreed on the action to
take and airlines stuck to a unified response.
"As soon as the first airline starts to fly using the old
routes, that increases economic pressure on other airlines to
follow suit," he told Reuters. Taking longer routes means
consuming more jet fuel, which costs airlines more money.
(Reporting by Victoria Bryan, Frank Siebelt and Tim Hepher;
Editing by Mark Potter)