Families of air crash victims can now be compensated up to 400,000 yuan (US$48,000) each from airlines, according to a new regulation China's aviation authority issued yesterday.
This upper limit is almost double the amount that victims' families received from the November 2004 air disaster when 54 people died in Baotou of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
China Eastern Airline agreed to pay each victim's family 211,000 yuan (US$25,400).
Scheduled to take effect on March 28, the new regulation states that passengers on domestic flights can get up to US$48,000 according to the actual bodily injury, in addition to compensation from insurance companies.
It also sets the maximum compensation for damage on each passenger's carried-on baggage as well as checked luggage and cargo, at 3,000 yuan (US$360) and 100 yuan (US$12) per kilogram respectively.
"The new regulation is expected to better protect passengers' rights and boost the development of civil aviation," said Yuan Yaohui, a senior official with China's General Administration of Civil Aviation (CAAC).
The current rules, a provisional regulation enacted in 1993, set the ceiling of compensation for every victim at 70,000 yuan (US$8,400).
"The limit was appropriate at that time but it can no longer meet the realities of today," said Yuan.
In the Baotou air disaster, China Eastern Airline doubled the amount as the price level soared. But the compensation still could not satisfy some victims' families.
The new upper limit was set on the basis of the statistics in 2004 when the average disposable income of urban citizens was 9,421 yuan (US$1,135), more than four times of that in 1992.
Though still lower than the international standard, the new regulation is "a timely progress," said Liu Weimin, an expert with the Civil Aviation Management Institute.
Han Jing, senior assistant to President of Okay Airways, said in a phone interview that the higher compensation upper limit would increase airlines' cost a little bit.
The new rules will apply to both Chinese and foreign passengers. Compensation to foreign passengers if necessary, can be higher Yuan said.
However, the regulation has not mentioned the compensation for delayed flights, a matter that many passengers complain and concern about now.
"It is a pity (that the new rule has not included it) since delayed flights happen all the time now," said Wang Renfeng, a frequent traveller.
According to Liu Weimin, only Article 126 of the Law on Civil Aviation has covered the issue.
The article says airlines should compensate passengers who suffer losses from delayed flights, when the delay is caused by airlines who fail to take necessary measures to prevent the damage.
Source: China Daily