‘Air India citing privatisation to deny fair compensation to 2010 crash victims’ families’

Kasaragod: The families of the victims of the 2010 Mangaluru Air India Express crash said they feel cheated by the new owners of the airlines, Tata Sons, for moving the Kerala High Court to dismiss their petitions seeking fair compensation.

The Mangalore Air Crash Victims’ Family Association said it has been legally fighting for fair compensation as per the Montreal Convention for the past 12 years. “But now, the Tatas have moved the Kerala High Court seeking the dismissal of 45 writ petitions filed by victims’ families seeking fair compensation,” Narayanan Nair, president of the association, said in a press conference in Kasaragod on Saturday.

He said Air India has cited the change of ownership as the reason for seeking the dismissal of the writ petitions. “It is merely a technicality. The liabilities of the airlines should be borne by the government of India and the airlines,” he said.

The airlines gave him Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh as compensation for the deaths of his children and wife. “I did not sign the acceptance of the offers and decided to move the high court seeking more compensation,” he said.

On May 22, 2010, Air India Express flight IX-812 took off from Dubai with 160 passengers and six crew members on board. On reaching Mangaluru, the aircraft overshot the tabletop runway and burst into flames, killing all the crew members and 152 passengers. Eight passengers survived the crash that broke the aircraft into two.

Locals and police crowd at the crash site of Mangaluru Air India Express on May 22, 2010. File photo: PTI

In May 2020, the Mangalore Air Crash Victims Family Association, said the Supreme Court raised the compensation by Rs 29 lakh to Rs 7.64 crore to the family of Mahendra Kodkany (45) who was killed in the crash.

A bench of justices D Y Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi had disagreed with the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) over the calculation of compensation based on his salary in Dubai, said association president Narayanan Nair. That is the highest compensation given to any victim of the air crash, Nair said.

He said another case filed by Arikady Aslam of Kumbla is pending before the Supreme Court. Aslam’s son Rafi (24) had died in the crash.

Forty-eight other writ petitions were pending before the Kerala High Court, he said. “Now Air India is citing privatisation as a reason to evade its responsibility to compensate the dependents of the victims. Its writ petition is condemnable and amounts to cheating,” said Nair.

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