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1,300 Dead in 1985 Air Accidents

October 28, 1985

HAMBURG, West Germany (AP) _ This year could be ″the worst year of all time″ for air traffic safety, the general secretary of the International Air Transport Association said Monday.

Some 1,300 people have lost their lives in 13 major airplane accidents so far in 1985, Guenter Eser said in his report to the association’s 41st annual meeting.

Last year, by contrast, was the best year ever for air traffic safety, Eser said in an address to more than 350 delegates from 140 airlines around the world. He did not say how many deaths occurred in 1984.

Despite the many accidents this year, the airplane is still the safest mode of travel, Lufthansa chairman Heinz Ruhnau, acting president of IATA, told the congress.

In a reference to recent airplane hijackings, Eser said, ″Anyone who interferes in the free movement of civilian airliners should be brought before a court and punished.″

Asked his opinion of the U.S. move forcing down an Egyptian airliner carrying Palestinian terrorists earlier this month, Eser responded, ″It is not the responsibility of IATA to criticize the United States.

″But if you listen carefully to my words, you have the answer,″ he added.

Eser is a former member of the board of Lufthansa, the West German national airline.

All the large European, North American, and many Asian and African airlines are members of IATA, which represents 75 percent of the world’s regular passenger air traffic.

Taken together, the airlines in IATA made a profit of half a billion dollars in 1984, their first net gain since 1978, Eser said.

In the preceding five years, they lost $6.2 billion, he said.

Last year, 435 million people used the association’s airlines, an increase of 4 percent over the previous year. The association expects a climb of about 5 percent a year until the turn of the century.

Eser said that over the next 10 years, the airlines will need $150 billion to $200 billion in capital to build 4,800 new planes.

West German Transport Minister Werner Dollinger, in a speech to the congress, said airlines should be able to ″relax″ air fares within Europe without submitting the market to a ″destructive″ price war.

Twenty-two European airlines in IATA have proposed a new air fare system that would include ″discount″ and ″deep discount″ fares up to 20 percent and 40 percent off the normal price. In Europe, air fares are normally set by agreements between governments.

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