Malaysia Airlines executive says carriers should not have to determine if conflict zones are too risky to fly over, as the Dutch and Australians negotiate access to crash site for police
A senior executive at troubled Malaysia Airlines has called for the creation of a new organisation to decide which flight paths are safe in the wake of the MH17 tragedy in Ukraine.
Hugh Dunleavy, the company's commercial director, said individual airlines could not be expected to make decisions on which volatile regions were secure to fly over.
Despite including a conflict zone, MH17's flight path had been approved by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the Ukrainian authorities and the European airspace service provider Eurocontrol, he said.
"Ultimately, we need one body to be the arbiter of where we can fly. MH17 has shown us that airlines can no longer rely on existing industry bodies for this information."
He said airlines were businesses and should no longer bear the responsibility of deciding if flight paths were safe.
"For the sake of passenger and crew safety we need to insist on a higher level of authority."
Dutch and Australian authorities were yesterday closing in on a deal to take major police contingents to the crash site in eastern Ukraine, but the plans are fraught with difficulty.
A convoy of 38 Dutch and 11 Australian unarmed police are on their way to the site. Both Dutch and Australians are unwilling to negotiate directly with the rebels who control the area and are waiting for the Ukrainian Parliament in Kiev to agree to the missions. Australia's Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, is in Ukraine and signed a deal with her Ukrainian counterpart, Pavlo Klimkin, to allow access to the site. But the Ukrainian Parliament needs to ratify the deal, and delays are likely after the resignation of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
The Observer understands that negotiations are being held by a contact group via video link and involve representatives of Kiev, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the rebels, as well as the Russian ambassador to Ukraine.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the rebels had agreed to give investigators full access to the site. It is not known how the rebel fighters will react to police missions.
A spokesperson for the OSCE monitoring mission in Donetsk said rebel fighters had indicated they would be comfortable with an international mission of about 25 to 30 people, but would find a larger group harder to protect. As the Dutch police would be unarmed, the understanding is they would be protected by rebel gunmen. A contingency plan being worked on in the Netherlands would put a group of armed special forces troops on standby to travel to the region if anything went wrong.
The Australian parents of a 25-year-old who was on board MH17 refuse to believe she is dead and have visited the crash site to find her.
Dr Jerzy Dyczynski and Angela Rudhart-Dyczynski ignored official warnings and have arrived from Perth to look for their daughter Fatima. Dyczynski likened the search to the efforts to find missing people in the Australian Outback, in which towns rally together for large-scale searches.
Believing an inner voice told him he would find his daughter alive, he said: "I cling to it - in Australia, when one person [goes missing] hundreds of people go to the bush and look until they are found."
The couple were overcome with emotion as they walked among the wreckage and scorched earth, and laid a large bouquet of flowers on part of the debris.
Fatima Dyczynski, who planned to become an astronaut, moved with her parents from Germany to Perth seven years ago and was studying aeronautical engineering in the Netherlands. Telegraph Group Ltd, Observer, PA