The crash of the Air India Express plane at Kozhikode on August 7 that killed 18 people including both pilots could make the airline liable to pay compensation of Rs 1.19 crore per passenger in case of death or bodily injury, according to the charter of passenger rights notified by the Central government in February last year.
How is this amount calculated?
As per the charter of passenger rights for air travellers, the compensation is calculated based on payment of damages of up to 1,13,100 Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), or around Rs 1.19 crore, for international flights. As on Friday, 1 SDR was equivalent to $1.41, while Indian Rupee closed at Rs 74.75 to the US dollar Monday.
The limits of liability during international flights for airlines have been defined under The Carriage By Air (Amendment) Act of 2016, based on India’s adoption of the Montreal Convention in 2009, which unifies rules governing compensation to passengers globally.
The liability limit for damage in case of death or bodily injury for each person was raised to 1,13,100 SDR from 1,00,000 SDR after the amendment to the law in 2016. Compensation for lost, delayed or damaged cargo was also revised upwards in 2016.
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How does India’s adoption of the Montreal Convention pan out?
For domestic carriage within India, the government applied a modified version of the Montreal Convention with regard to compensation.
As per a January 17, 2014 notification in the official gazette by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, for death or bodily injury during domestic flights, airlines are liable to pay up to Rs 20 lakh per passenger. In case of death inside an aircraft due to natural cases, airlines are not liable to pay any compensation on both international and domestic flights.
Air India officials did not respond to calls and an email seeking comments on how much compensation will be paid to passengers on board Air India Express plane flight coming from Dubai to Kozhikode, which crashed last Friday.
A senior airline official, who did not wish to be named, said “compensation is typically based on the Montreal Convention protocols and its specific adoption by India.” He said clarity on exact details of compensation per passenger will be available after inputs from the legal departments.
So far, Air India Express has announced an interim compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased passengers of age 12 years and above, Rs 5 lakh to passengers below age of 12, Rs 2 lakh to passengers who are critically injured and Rs 50,000 to other passengers injured in the incident.
According to the latest statement by Air India Express, out of the 191 people including six crew members on board the ill-fated flight, 18 people have died, while 56 injured passengers have been discharged from various hospitals after “obtaining complete fitness”. In a statement on Saturday, Air India Express had said: “The airline is adequately insured and will pay compensation in accordance with applicable law at the appropriate juncture”.