Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Kozhikode plane crash: Probe bureau report raises hope of higher compensation for victims

Thiruvananthapuram: The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) report on the Air India Express Boeing 737 crash at Kozhikode airport in August 2020 has enlivened the hopes of better compensation for the victims, although the airline company had settled over half of the settlement claims of the injured passengers and relatives of the deceased before the final accident report was published.

According to Article 21 of the Montreal Convention, which imposes penalties on carriers for the death of passengers and fixes a higher insurance compensation in case of disasters involving international flights, if the investigation proves that the accident was due to negligence or other wrongful act or omission of the airlines, its staff or agents, there is no upper limit for claiming compensation amount.

For claiming the higher compensation, it is necessary to establish the cause of the accident. In this case, the AAIB report clearly pointed out that non-adherence to the standard operating procedure had resulted in the crash. Had the pilot gone for a "go around" as requested by the co-pilot after seeing the un-stabilised approach for landing, the accident could have been averted. The accident report also listed a slew of undesirable factors that occurred during the time of landing from the side of the airline company and its crew, which contributed to the accident.

"The Carriage by Air (Amendment) Act the Indian government introduced in 2016, which allows the government to revise the liability limits of airlines in line with the Montreal Convention that was acceded to by the clountry in May 2009, had also raised the liability limit for damage in case of death or bodily injury for each person from 1,00,000 Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to 1,13,100.

As per the currency value of the SDR, which is based on market exchange rates of a basket of major currencies -- US dollar, euro, Japanese yen, and pound sterling -- the injured or deceased would have given a maximum of approximately Rs 1.3 crore. In this case, there is no upper limit for compensation as the accident was mainly due to the negligence of the crew," said aviation expert Jacob K Philip.

 Dr Sajjad Hussain, convenor of the platform of the victims, said unlike the Mangaluru air crash, the victims and their relatives have been expecting a fair deal from the side of the airline company and its insurance firm this time. The negotiation has been on for quite some time and 80-90 injured of the total 165 injured have already signed an agreement with the company after reaching an understanding on compensation based on the eligibility of each one. But none of the relatives of the deceased has agreed to the offer put forward by the company.

14/09/21 Dhinesh Kallungal/New Indian Express

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