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Walsh scathing on notion of missile counter-measures

August 5, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Fitting commercial airliners with counter-measures to protect them against missile attack is an “absolutely ridiculous” suggestion, according to the chief of British Airways’ parent company, IAG.

Willie Walsh said British Airways had considered it briefly and rejected it. He slammed comments attributed to British defence expert Ian King, BAE Systems chief executive, on the subject of airline safety.

Walsh, speaking as IAG moved back to profit, was commenting on the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine.

Britain’s Daily Mail quoted Walsh calling for an international convention to examine the danger of surface-to-air missiles, as well as greater sharing of information between airlines about emerging threats to airspace.

King had reportedly gone further, suggesting that perhaps commercial airlines needed of military technology to protect themselves against the threat of missiles.

Walsh, notoriously outspoken, scoffed at the idea and said: “If Ian King has a concern, withdraw from the arms industry and stop selling military equipment.”

“I don’t think it [military technology] is the answer, I’m not in favour of it and I don’t think any other airline chief executives are.”

Commentators said afterwards King had been referring to cybersecurity rather than the use of countermeasures.

‘[Firms] need to think about whether they need military-grade services,’ King was reported to have said. ‘Aspects of what has happened [leads airlines to consider] how do you protect aeroplanes, both to track them and protect them.’

IAG, parent of Iberia as well as BA, recently weathered storms in airline sector to post a 55% rise in second-quarter profits.

BA stopped flying over eastern Ukraine in March, Walsh said, but continues to fly over Iraq. Walsh would not criticise Malaysia Airlines for its choice of flight path.

Written by : William Sykes

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