Crash victims’ kin have rights


THE national aviation industry is once again in mourning after Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182, serving the Jakarta-Pontianak route, crashed in the Java Sea near Thousand Islands regency on Jan 9.

The plane was carrying 56 passengers and six crew members when the tragedy occurred. In connection with the accident, it must be pointed out that the victims’ families have a right to compensation.

The government should uphold this right through exercising partiality for the victims and assure transparency of the process in the highly regulated industry.

President Joko Widodo’s instruction thus far reflects this approach and its implementation must be closely watched.

Aviation laws around the world do their best to try and protect passengers as the weakest party in the equation, and their next of kin.

One means to do this is by regulating plane crash compensation. In our Aviation Law – specifically for domestic flights in this case – the first stage (tier 1) of an airline’s liability for the death of a passenger on an aircraft is compensation of Rp 1.25 billion (RM360,500) as regulated in Transportation Ministerial Regulation No. 77/2011.

This amount is to be given to the deceased passenger’s next of kin.

The (legal principle) as regards aviation passenger liability during a domestic flight is that all lives shall be treated equally.

The purpose of this legal safety net is to ensure the bereaved families can continue to lead proper lives in the case that the deceased passenger was the breadwinner.

On the other hand, this amount may be insufficient for the next of kin if the victim earned a high income. In such cases, both personal and travel insurance play a role. It should be noted that Article 165, paragraph (2) of Law No. 1/2009 on Aviation mandates the airline to pay the compensation in full to the victim’s family.

As a result, any additional compensation from state insurance companies Jasa Raharja or BPJS Ketenagakerjaan is supplementary to the legally determined amount.

Logically, this should pose no problem, since the ministerial regulation requires every Indonesian airline to be insured.

Sriwijaya Air will not lose a penny; it only needs to claim the insurance so the compensation can be paid. Domestic law on the liability of airlines for passengers complies with the Warsaw Convention 1929 and the Montreal Convention 1999. — The Jakarta Post/ANN

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