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Monday, July 21, 2014

Ukraine should have closed its airspace

International Air Transport Association (IATA) Chief Executive Tony Tyler thinks that Ukraine bears some responsibility for the destruction of MH17 by keeping its airspace open.  "Airlines depend on governments and air traffic control authorities to advise which air space is available for flight, and they plan within those limits" he said.  "It's very similar to driving a car, if the road is open, you assume that it's safe, if it's closed, you find an alternate route."

The ruling Ukrainian government was receiving overflight fees for each commercial flight over its territory and therefore had a financial incentive to keep it open.

Three days before MH17 was shot down, Ukraine raised the minimum altitude for commercial flights over the eastern part of the country to 32,000 feet  from 16,000 feet after a military cargo jet was blown up at 21,000 feet.  Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said that the pilot had requested to fly at 35,000 feet over Ukraine's airspace but was told by air traffic control to fly at 33,000 feet.

But these details don't really matter because the BUK missile system used can hit targets of up to 75,000 feet.

An armed pro-Russian separatist stands guard 

In defence of Malaysian Airlines, they said the flight plan for MH17 was approved by Eurocontrol.  They said the route was one commonly used for flights from Europe to Asia and in fact another passenger airplane was on the same route at the same time MH17 was shot down.

Some of the airlines who decided to take the risk were the Russian carrier Aeroflo, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Thai Airways, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways.

However British Airways, Air France, Cathay Pacific and Qantas were among those airlines who were not prepared to take the risk. A Qantas A380 pilot said "from Turkey, we track over Bulgaria then Romania, thus giving the area a wide berth."

Ukrainian authorities have now closed all routes over its airspace.

Putin said at a cabinet meeting on Friday that Ukraine is responsible. "I want to point out that this tragedy wouldn't have happened if there was peace in this land, or at least if fighting hadn't resumed in the southeast of Ukraine" he said. "And undoubtedly, the state on whose territory this happened is responsible for this awful tragedy."

But we're not buying it.  And as disgusting stories emerge of drunken rebels throwing body parts around in a most disrespectful way and scavenging through the victim's luggage for money, credit cards, and any items of value, it's time to bite the bullet Vladimir and own up.