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The world will never be 100% safe: Emirates CEO

Airline security is a hot topic at this year's Dubai Airshow following a number of high-profile security incidents but the chief executive of Emirates airline told CNBC that airlines will never operate in a completely safe environment.

"The world will never be free the way you want it to be, or safe. You have to think that the things that can happen, you have to learn exactly what you can do (to prevent these things)," Sheikh Ahmed Al-Maktoum, the Emirates Group's chief executive and chairman, told CNBC on the sidelines of the Dubai airshow Sunday. "But you can't plan everything 100 percent," he added.

Since the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, airline security was stepped up among major airlines and travelers have become accustomed to thorough baggage and security checks in most airports.


Dubai International Airport
Moment Mobile ED/ Getty Images
Dubai International Airport

However, recent events such as the downing of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over east Ukraine in 2014 and the suspected explosion on a Russian jet over Egypt last week have only served to heighten security fears and highlight geopolitical tensions.

An affiliate of the terrorist group that calls itself "Islamic State" claimed responsibility for the downing of the Russian Airbus A321 in the Sinai desert a week ago on Saturday, although the Egyptian authorities were quick to dismiss that claim. It is looking increasingly likely that an explosive device was placed on the plane, however.

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Islamic State, a self-styled caliphate operating in parts of Syria and Iraq, has become a top threat in the Middle East with other militant Islamist groups outside of those countries also declaring allegiance to the group, posing a bigger threat for regional stability and security.

Sheikh Ahmed Al-Maktoum told CNBC that he hoped the Middle East as a whole would become safer but said, "I thank God that the United Arab Emirates and this part of the world is very safe."

Not all airline heads are as worried about the regional security outlook, however. Fabrice Brégier, president and chief executive of Airbus, which manufactured the plane downed in Egypt last week, downplayed the geopolitical concerns in the Middle East.

Speaking to CNBC from the Dubai airshow on Sunday, Brégier said there was "no impact" from the rise of IS in the Middle East. "We can see that there is still worldwide growth. Yes, there are some geopolitical question marks but here in Dubai I can tell you that the traffic is still very good. The geographic position of this region is fantastic."

- Written by CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt. Follow us on Twitter: @CNBCWorld