MH17 crash: IATA defends Malaysia Airlines

Tony Tyler, director general and chief executive officer (CEO) of International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The International Air Transport Association (IATA)'s chief has issued a statement to defend Malaysia Airlines, following the crash of MH17 in Ukraine.

In the statement, Tony Tyler, IATA's Director General and CEO, said "I share the shock and sadness expressed by so many around the world on the terrible loss of MH 17. At this time, it is important we are very clear: safety is the top priority. No airline will risk the safety of their passengers, crew and aircraft for the sake of fuel savings. Airlines depend on governments and air traffic control authorities to advise which air space is available for flight, and they plan within those limits."

IATA has 240 airline members, which control 84 per cent of the world's air traffic.

"It is very similar to driving a car. If the road is open, you assume that it is safe. If it's closed you find an alternate route," Tyler said.

"Civil aircraft are not military targets. Governments agreed that in the Chicago Convention. And what happened with MH 17 is a tragedy for 298 souls that should not have happened in any airspace."

Following the tragedy, some criticisms against Malaysia Airlines were floated in social media, asking why the airliner flew in the airspace of a conflict area.