The families of the 150 passengers and crew killed when a German airliner crashed into the French Alps last month could win hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation but it is expected to be fully covered by the airline’s insurance policy.
Bloomberg reported London Aviation Lawyer James Healy-Pratt had assessed the likely compensation total as $US350 million.
“We believe there is at least $1 billion of insurance cover on offer for Germanwings,” he says, adding that the policy would offer indemnity even if suicide was indeed found to be the cause of the crash.
“The insurance remains valid unless there is cast iron evidence that senior management at Germanwings actively colluded in the alleged criminal activities of the co-pilot.”
Most airlines are signatories to the Montreal Convention, which automatically entitles crash victims’ families to payouts of up to $US156,000.
However, families are still able to claim for compensation above that.
Berlin Technical University Aviation Law Professor Elmar Giemulla says under German law, if a crash victim was a breadwinner for a surviving family, the airline must pay for dependents’ living expenses, until children turn 27.
“These are not big sums, nothing threatening for the airline,” Giemulla says.
“And of course, this is insured anyway. Normally, these cases do not go to court, the airlines are willing to pay and do pay.”