Auckland psychologist Grant Amos believes the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in March proved more troubling to nervous passengers than last week's aviation tragedy.
He took many more inquiries about his long-established Flying Without Fear programme after the March incident, which remains a bewildering mystery, than since the same airline's flight MH17 was believed shot down by pro-Russian separatists over eastern Ukraine.
Read more of the Herald's MH17 coverage today:
MH17: Russians claim Ukrainian jet flew close to plane
MH17: Shaken cabin crew pull out of work
Claims of looting at crash site add to grief for victims' families
"We had a lot more inquiries because there's no answer to that," he said yesterday. "Whereas in this one [the loss of MH17], this is a direct act of terrorism, so therefore there's an answer there."
Mr Amos, who has been trying to instil greater confidence in nervous flyers since being asked by Air New Zealand to set up his programme in 1982, said he would have no problem flying with Malaysia Airlines.
But he acknowledged that last week's loss would make his job harder, as people with a fear of flying were always keen to make excuses not to take to the skies. "They become very good at it - they always think they are right and everybody else is out of step - so when there's an incident like this, they point the finger and say: 'See, I was right'."
Mr Amos said his 20-hour courses had achieved a greater than 90 per cent success rate among more than 6500 participants, most of whom were people whose problem with flying stemmed from the desire to be in control of situations.
His graduate list included many famous names including sports stars, politicians, business leaders and rock stars "because they tend to be perfectionists".