Malaysia Airlines assures families of MH370 passengers of 'fair and equitable compensation'

MAS will ensure "fair and equitable compensation" for the next-of-kin of flight MH370, and has urged those concerned to file their claims by March 8.
MAS will ensure "fair and equitable compensation" for the next-of-kin of flight MH370, and has urged those concerned to file their claims by March 8.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia Airlines (MAS) will ensure "fair and equitable compensation" for the next-of-kin (NOK) of flight MH370, and has urged those concerned to file their claims by March 8.

"MAS has on numerous occasions kept all NOK informed of the two-year limitation period under the Montreal Convention, which in the case of MH370 ends on March 8, 2016, in order to ensure that those affected take the necessary steps to preserve their legal rights," the company said in a statement.

It was issued after families' support group, Voice370, expressed concerns that no legal process could be initiated or continued without consent of the airline's administrator, after the Malaysian Airline System Berhad (Administration) Act 2015 took effect in February last year.

The group claimed that the Act prevents or severely limits the rights to sue in Malaysia or elsewhere, and even ensured that no order obtained either locally or overseas would be enforceable.

In the same statement, the Administrator of MAS assured that the company would continue to fulfil all its obligations to those affected by the MH370 tragedy, in accordance with applicable international conventions and law.

The Administrator has granted a total of 96 requests from NOK to commence legal proceedings.

"No requests have been rejected. In addition, 42 NOK have collected full compensation.

"MAS has insurance coverage in place to meet its obligation to pay compensation to NOK as per its obligations under applicable international conventions and law," it said.

Next of kin of the MH370 tragedy victims fear they may not be able to take legal action against Malaysia Airlines after next month, following the expiry of a moratorium protecting the national carrier.

Voice370 said in a statement on Tuesday that the Malaysian Airline System Berhad (Administration) Act 2015 took effect along with a moratorium where no legal process could be initiated or continued without consent of the company administrator.

"There are cases filed against MAS in courts, and the moratorium effect is that all of these cannot proceed until MAS administration ends or there is approval from the administrator.

"Our deadline for taking action is March 8 this year, but when the old administration and moratorium ends, all monies, assets and business of MAS will most likely be transferred to the new legal entity, Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB).

"There will be nothing left in MAS when the moratorium ends, making it pointless to sue them," said the group in a statement on Tuesday.

The group claimed that the Act prevents or severely limits the rights to sue in Malaysia or elsewhere, and even ensured that no order obtained either locally or overseas would be enforceable.

It also claimed there were selective payments or asset transfers made to creditors who were deemed "relevant" by MAS, and none of the MH370 next of kin were in the list.

"If permission to file or prosecute cases against MAS is withheld, we will not just lose our rights to justice, but will also have to shoulder additional losses, including the amount utilised for lawyers, court fees and time, not to mention the emotional heartache we have been enduring for almost two years now," said the statement.

The group urged the government to allow the legal processes to continue, saying that the moratorium on lawsuits should be applied sparingly to "frivolous and vexatious cases".

"In the worst case, should permission not be given within the deadline, we urge the relevant authorities to extend the time period for legal redress beyond March 8 this year, by at least 60 days," said the statement.

Flight MH370, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, left the KL International Airport at 12.41am on March 8, 2014 and disappeared from radar screens about an hour later, while over the South China Sea. It was to have arrived in Beijing at 6.30am on the same day.