Emirates boss Tim Clark is urging his competitors to be more transparent in sharing information after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 to ensure such a tragedy is never repeated.
Speaking at World Routes in Chicago, Clark highlighted his concerns that some airlines were privy to intelligence prior to the MAS Boeing 777 shoot-down on 17 July, which was not shared with competitors and he wants processes put in place to address this.
“Something needs to be done and must be done, with timelines attached to it,” says Clark, who believes that his efforts to galvanise the industry into action “have got some traction”.
Clark calls MH17 a “game changer” as it destroyed the illusion that countries can be relied upon to regulate safety in their airspace when a civil war is playing out. “When somebody knew these weapons had come in, there should have been an automatic airspace closure,” he says.
“This isn’t a blame game. It is clear to me that airlines of some states that are better equipped in the intelligence-gathering process know a lot more than they are prepared to say, for reasons of disclosure etc. But the fact is that the information is probably there,” he adds.
“If we cannot trust the notion that the state will determine safety of operation over its territory then it passes to the airline community, because who else is going to do it – ICAO? They will say ‘no, we mandate the states to do it’,” he adds.
Clark delivered a stern message to IATA director general Tony Tyler as there was “a high degree of coalescence from certain quarters. I said to Tony ‘you need to set up an information clearing house where all of us that are in the know of some kind can feed information, and then IATA or somebody can feed this out to airlines’.”
The actions also “fired up ICAO who then met in July and agreed that by October they’d have the preliminary report and will convene the co-ordinated security conference in February”, Clark says, describing these as “steps in the right direction”.
“We need to be a lot more self-serving in our assessments and not rely on third parties to do the job,” says Clark. “We must work with others – even our competitor group - to share that information. I don’t know many of my peer group who don’t agree with that.”