London market brokers are calling on world governments to share the cost of insuring airlines against terrorism.

The London Market Insurance Brokers Committee (LMBC) wants a list of changes to the international aviation war risk scheme Globaltime to prevent US airlines gaining a significant competitive advantage.

The US government has led the way in helping shoulder responsibility for covering its airlines against terrorist attacks since the 11 September hijackings.

It has expanded a government scheme so that US airlines can buy all their war risk cover at 20 cents a passenger - about a tenth of the price charged by the commercial market.

Chairman of the LMBC's technical committee on aviation, and a senior vice president at global broker Marsh, Ken Coombes said: "The US government has demonstrated that it feels terrorism of the nature we saw on 11 September was an attack on governments and that governments have to be materially involved in providing indemnities against terrorism."

By comparison, the International Civil Aviation Organisation's Globaltime scheme requires far more risk to be carried on the commercial market.

The UK government and 45 others have joined Globaltime.

The key point among the LMBC's five main proposed changes is that governments would give up the right to receive repayments for losses.

They would effectively become reinsurers instead of guarantors.

Premiums would be cut to 10 cents a passenger, the same as is charged in the US programme for basic third party war risk cover.

The minimum amount insureds would have to buy commercially to be eligible for the Globaltime scheme would be increased to $1bn (£606m) from $50m (£30.3m), the brokers argue.

This would distance governments from the likelihood of paying out as the commercial market would pay the first $1bn (£606m) of losses.

Coombes, who was also involved in a working party that was instrumental in the implementation of Globaltime, said the world's airlines outside the US paid about $2bn (£1.2bn) to protect themselves against terrorism.

"Our view is that the rest of the world's airlines are spending $2bn (£1.2bn) to distance governments from losses," he said.

The brokers' proposals could be discussed by governments within weeks but are unlikely to be acted upon before any Western attack on Iraq goes ahead.

Hostilities there would focus minds on the dangers facing airlines and rocketing commercial premiums would illustrate the need for change.