UN air body balmes Ukraine

The United Nations governing body of aviation has laid the blame for the downing of MH17 with the Ukraine Government for not closing its airspace.

At a special meeting in Montreal, Canada, yesterday to discuss security of commercial aircraft, the International Civil Aviation Organisation said that it was primarily the responsibility of countries "to address any potential risks to civil aviation in their airspace".

And Qantas' decision to continue to fly over Iraq has drawn fire from the Transport Workers Union, which is threatening industrial action unless the airline moves its flight routes.

TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon yesterday said that airlines were putting profit ahead of passenger safety.

"It is the responsibility of workers in the aviation industry to stand up for Australians and say if the Government and the companies aren't prepared to step in then we should consider stepping in industrially to protect the travelling public," Mr Sheldon said.

However, a spokesman for Transport Minister Warren Truss was not moved by the union calls.

He said international airlines constantly assessed risk based on advice from air safety groups.

"Airline risk assessments are constantly updated to reflect changes in international circumstances, including military conflicts, health outbreaks or operational changes," the spokesman said.

"Mr Sheldon knows, or should know, that Australia does not have the legislative power to unilaterally implement laws to determine where airlines are able to fly over foreign countries."

At the Montreal summit, ICAO warned countries that under the Chicago Convention - which provides the basis for ICAO's operations - each country had responsibility for its sovereign airspace.

It said that it would establish a senior level task force of state and industry experts to address civil aviation and national security.

The West Australian

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