Nepal moves a step closer to Montreal Convention for higher air travel insurance

The Montreal convention (MC99) has moved a step closer since the Cabinet’s Economic and Infrastructure approved the draft bill tabled by the Tourism Ministry. The Committee approved the draft to be forwarded to the cabinet which was initiated since 2010, said Tourism Secretary Krishna Prasad Devkota. He added that it will be tabled in Parliament after the Cabinet’s go-ahead permission.

Nepal government will be depositing the ratification instrument with the International Civil Aviation (ICAO) in Montreal, Canada after the accessed draft will be passed by Parliament.

MC99, is formally the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air, is a multilateral treaty adopted by a diplomatic meeting of the ICAO member states in 1999. It demands higher compensation for accidents including international flights than that prescribed by the Warsaw Convention.

As per its provision, the carrier is legally responsible only for the sustained damage in case of death or bodily injury of a passenger in the accident took place on board or in case of death or bodily injury of a passenger.

The carrier is liable to pay $8,300 per passenger for the death or injury in the agreement of Warsaw convention but later this was replaced by The Hague Protocol which amended the Warsaw Convention. The limit prescribed by the amendment is $20,000 per passenger while the MC99 imposes a minimum liability of nearly $113,000 Special Drawing Rights, equivalent to $169,000, for each passenger.

However, Nepal has not signed the convention yet causing delay in the families of the victims from receiving a reasonable amount of compensation. But, the crash of US-Bangla Airlines Flight 211 at Tribhuvan International Airport in March has also push government forward to sign convention.

Nepali airlines companies operating international flights provide a minimum of Rs2 million as compensation in case of death of a passenger depending on the insurance policy of the particular airline.

But, there is no any clarity whether its provisions would also be applied to domestic carriage as well or only to international carriage. If the authorities implement it, it will be applied in both domestic and international carriers of Nepal. Otherwise, a separate legislation will be needed to reflect the principles of the Montreal Convention. However, Nepali domestic airlines have been opposing the government’s move to fix a uniform liability amount equal to international airlines.

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