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Know the compensation airlines are liable to pay in case of accidents


The incident at the Kozhikode airport, where an Air India Express plane crashed due to a runway excursion, claimed 20 lives and left over 130 people injured. If you’re someone who travels by air, it would be useful to know the kind of compensation that airlines are liable to offer in case of an accident.

An airline has to pay compensation if it is at fault for cancellation or delay, denial of boarding and baggage loss. “Airlines are also liable to pay if a passenger dies or undergoes bodily injuries on-board an aircraft. This claim is as per the Montreal Convention (MC99) protocol as accepted by India in 2009,” said Akanksha Anshu, co-founder and managing director, Refundme.in, a company that helps air passengers to claim compensation.

The liability limit in case of death or injury is up to 1,13,100 SDR (special drawing rights). As on 21 August, one SDR is equal to $1.422. The actual compensation will depend on a number of factors.

Typically, the claimant (family of the deceased or the injured) has to prove the extent of damages. Factors such as age of the deceased, educational status, employment, last drawn salary, marital status, economic status, the number of dependants are considered to assess the damage. “The MC99 does not allow claims for damages for mental anguish and inconvenience caused or suffered by the claimant,” added Anshu.

Mark Martin, founder and CEO, Martin Consultancy, an aviation safety firm, said the amount of compensation will depend on the hull insurance taken by the airline and varies from country to country. “Hull insurance is the insurance of the whole asset, including the plane and third-party liabilities and all those who are travelling on board. Therefore, the insurance company will pay compensation depending on the insurance cover it has taken for the passengers, divided by the number of passengers,” added Martin.

According to MC99, an interim compensation of 10 lakh per passenger should be offered. “This is generally paid within 90 days,” said Martin.

“In the Kozhikode crash, the airline announced interim compensation of 10 lakh to the next kin of the deceased passenger of 12 years and above; 5 lakh for passengers below 12 years of age; and 2 lakh for injured,” said Anshu.

The process to claim the compensation may vary from airline to airline. Airlines can choose to settle through direct communication with the passenger or the family or to release a form which needs to be filled for the claim.

Passengers or their family members can also approach the court if they are not satisfied with the compensation.

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