Nepal has made a commitment to sign the Montreal Convention (MC99) which demands higher compensation for accidents including international flights than that prescribed by the Warsaw Convention. Minister of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviatioon, Rabindra Adhikari stated that government would be present formally for discussion at the Federal Parliament’s budget session for its accession to the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air which is expected to implement from May 6.
According to MC99, 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.
MC99 states, “The carrier is liable for damage sustained in case of death or bodily injury of a passenger upon condition only that the accident which caused the death or injury took place on board the aircraft or in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking.”(Chapter III, Article 17) According to the source, a discussion was held on Thursday on the convention. According to Pramod Nepal, under secretary Minister, the Foreign and Finance ministries have already given their go-ahead to the proposal.
The Law Ministry expects to give its approval within a week.After the proposal is passed by Parliament, the Nepal government will submit the agreement instrument to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal, Canada, ” he added. After the crash of US-Bangla Airlines Flight 211 at Tribhuvan International Airport in March has encouraged government to sign convention. Previously, the government hesitated to sign though the process was started in 2010.
However, neither Nepal nor Bangladesh has signed the convention yet causing delay in the families of the victims from receiving a reasonable amount of compensation. 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.
As per the information, no decision has been made on domestic legislation to reflect the principles of MC99. The discussion is still going on whether to implement the provision in domestic airlines or not. 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.