Germanwings flight 4U9525 crash: Lufthansa offers up to $75,000 per passenger

BERLIN (AFP) - Germanwings has offered the families of the victims of the French Alps air disaster “up to 50,000 euros (S$75,000) per passenger” towards their immediate costs, a spokesman said Friday.

The assistance, which the families would not be required to pay back, was separate from the compensation that the airline will likely have to pay over the disaster, a Germanwings spokesman told AFP, confirming a report by Tagesspiegel daily.

Tagesspiegel quoted a specialist in aviation law, Holger Hopperdietzelm, as saying Lufthansa, Germanwings’ parent company, faced a compensation bill ranging from several tens of thousands of euros to several hundreds of thousands of euros per victim.

Elmar Giemulla, a professor of aviation law at the Technical University of Berlin, told the Rheinische Post paper, however, she expected Europe’s biggest airline to pay a smaller amount, perhaps between 10 and 30 million euros.

The liability of airlines in accidents was decided at a 1999 convention in Montreal, which settled on a cap of 143,000 euros per victim.

The cap, which airlines “rarely bring up” can however be exceeded “in practise", the legal manager of one airline told AFP.

Insurance specialists told AFP the fact that the co-pilot apparently deliberately crashed the jet into the mountainside would not affect the issue of compensation.

Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS), a subsidiary of German insurance giant Allianz that specialises in risk management of large corporates, is Germanwings’ lead insurer.

The fact that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz hid a serious illness from his bosses, as revealed by German prosecutors Friday, did “not bring the exclusion clause in Lufthansa’s insurance policy into play", the legal manager who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity said.

According to German media reports Lubitz was suffering from depression.