PETALING JAYA: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has come to Malaysia Airlines' defence, saying that no airline would risk the safety of its passengers to save on fuel.
In a statement on Saturday, IATA chief executive officer Tony Tyler said safety was the top priority for airlines.
"I share the shock and sadness expressed by so many around the world on the terrible loss of MH17.
"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," he said.
All 298 people on board Flight MH17 en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam died when the plane crashed in Ukraine near the Russian border.
All 283 passengers and 15 crewmembers died in the crash.
American officials believe it was shot down over Ukrainian airspace.
Following the incident, many had questioned the airline's decision to fly over that airspace despite the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Tyler said airlines depended on governments and air traffic control authorities to advise them on which air space was available for flight and that the airlines made their flight plans within those specified limits.
He likened an airlines' decision to choose a particular flight path to driving a car.
"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," he said.
Tyler, in the statement, reiterated that civil aircraft were not military targets as agreed by Governments in the Chicago Convention.
"And what happened with MH17 is a tragedy for 298 souls that should not have happened in any airspace," he said.