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Emirates chief: MH17 tragedy was avoidable

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The Mayor of London Boris Johnson talks to Tim Clark the President of Emirates Airline at the Emirates HQ in Dubai, The Mayor is on a 2 day tour of the UAE, Monday April 15, 2013. Photo By Andrew Parsons / i-Images

Sir Tim Clark said the flight would not have flown over Ukraine if the knowledge that high-altitude missiles were there had been passed on

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson talks to Tim Clark the President of Emirates Airline at the Emirates HQ in Dubai, The Mayor is on a 2 day tour of the UAE, Monday April 15, 2013. Photo By Andrew Parsons / i-Images
Mayor of London Boris Johnson talks to Sir Tim Clark

The Malaysian flight MH17 tragedy, in which 298 people perished mid-July when the jetliner was reportedly downed by a missile over Ukraine, could have been prevented, the Emirates Airline’s chief has suggested.

According to Sir Tim Clark, the flight would not have flown over Ukraine if the knowledge that high-altitude missiles were there had been passed on.

The Dubai-based airline’s chief told BBC in an interview that there was evidence that missiles had been on site for a number of weeks. Emirates did not know that, he said, though some carriers did appear to know but didn’t share information.

It was likely that every airline would have by-passed the danger zone if they had known, he added.

“We have a concern that that information was known by certain stakeholders,” he said,

Planes had been cleared to fly in the area as long as they stayed above a certain height, and a report earlier this week highlighted the fact that three other large passenger jets were in the same area at roughly the same time as the Malaysian flight.

Clark 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,” he said.

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

“We understand now that certain carriers were aware of that and had already taken avoidance action,” the Emirates’ chief added.