'MAS has good safety record'

NST, March 13, 2014

Airline’s integrity should not be prejudiced by the disappearance of the MH370 flight, says IATA

MALAYSIA Airlines' integrity should not be prejudiced by the disappearance of the MH370 flight as it has a good safety record.

"This is a rare incident," said International Air Transport Association (IATA) director-general and chief executive officer Tony Tyler.

In a media conference call from Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday, he recalled that the last fatal incident concerning Malaysia Airlines was 20 years ago and it involved a small aircraft, a Fokker 50.

Six days ago, Malaysia Airlines' MH370 flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing went missing. The Boeing 777 had 239 people on board when it vanished off radar screens early Saturday morning, triggering a massive international search effort. Todate, dozens of ships and aircraft from 12 countries continue to scour surrounding seas off Malaysia for the ill-fated aircraft.

Tyler was responding to queries whether the MH370 flight disappearance is causing loss of consumer confidence in Malaysia Airlines and triggering fear of flying among travellers all over the world.

He reiterated that aviation is a safe industry.

"Last year, around 3.1 billion people travelled by air. This year we expect traffic to surpass 3.3 billion passengers. That is nine million people a day with over 6,000 people per minute boarding an aircraft. The global fleet travels some 70,000km each minute," he said.

"We are able to achieve this through teamwork that includes airlines, regulators, air navigation service providers, airports, caterers, ground handlers and aircraft, engine and systems manufacturers," he said.

"As an industry, we make safety our top priority and work together to achieve it. But on very rare occasions tragedy strikes. And each time it does, it re-dedicates the whole industry to continue to improve," he added.

IATA represents some 240 airlines, comprising 84 per cent of global air traffic of which Malaysia Airlines is a member.

"We are saddened by this event, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family members and friends of all those involved," said Tyler.

"Like everyone, we hope that the aircraft will be located so that those with friends and loved ones on board MH370 flight can move beyond the current uncertainty. It will also allow us to transit from the current speculation into a full-scale investigation. The goal is to find out what happened and make sure that it does not happen again," he said.

"I should make clear IATA's role in this. We are not an investigator or regulator. And we are not a speculator. As the industry association, our role is to provide useful background and context where necessary.

"More importantly, once the authorities have determined the cause of this apparent tragedy, we will work with our members and other stakeholders to apply any lessons learned so as to help ensure that whatever may have happened to MH370 is is not repeated," he added.

On the global outlook, Tyler said the airline industry is set to deliver a second year of improved profits. This is despite a slight downward revision to its industry outlook for 2014 of US$18.7 billion (RM61.7 billion) from the previous forecast of US$19.7 billion.

This revision is prompted by higher oil prices in the last three months which are now expected to average US$108 per barrel. This is US$3.50 per barrel more than previous projections. The US$3 billion added cost on the industry's fuel bill is expected to be largely offset by stronger demand, especially for cargo, which is being supported by a strengthening global economy.

Overall industry revenues are expected to rise to US$745 billion, which is US$2 billion more than previously projected.