Families of 100 victims on Airblue flight ED202 are yet to receive the compensation money promised by the airline, The Express Tribune has learnt.
There were no survivors on the ill-fated flight that had 152 people onboard, including 146 passengers and six crew members.
Airblue spokesperson Raheel Ahmed told The Express Tribune that only 50 of the victims’ families have been paid Rs5 million so far.
In the initial phase, the airline paid 0.5 million to all families for urgent relief, but no compensation package was announced until around three months after the crash. Affected families alleged that the airline was planning to usurp the insurance money owed to them. Some even said that the company was earning interest on the compensation money and was deliberately delaying the payout.
However, the airline says the announcement of the compensation package was delayed only because the management was negotiating with the insurance company to ensure maximum compensation. “Each family is being given Rs5 million in addition to the 0.5 million given earlier,” the Airblue official said, claiming it was the highest amount paid to plane crash victims in Pakistan.
However, sources familiar with the matter say there is no particular insurance company involved, but a “faceless international consortium” that comprises a dozen companies, including a large local company.
Airblue has given Rs5 million to only those families of the victims who have fulfilled their legal requirements, which includes a succession certificate. The airline claims that only 60 people have submitted these certificates, of which 50 people have been paid the full amount. These 50 do not include the two American nationals who were also onboard.
The airline maintains there is “no question of earning interest on the compensation money” since the insurance company has not made any payments to Airblue, they claim. A senior Civil Aviation Authority official said the inquiry report is complete and has been submitted to the Ministry of Defence. “It will be made public soon,” he said, adding that the matter was now in the hands of the prime minister.
FIA inspector Rehmatullah Dhomki, who lost his wife and three children in the crash, said although the inquiry report will not be able to bring back his loved ones, it is necessary that it is made public so that future mistakes can be avoided. “Also, the role of the CAA itself has been suspicious in the incident and I want to know exactly how it happened,” Dhomki said, who himself was on board a PIA flight at the time of crash.
Dhomki says the compensation money paid to him means nothing. “The biggest asset that a man can have is his children. You are nothing once you lose them,” he said. The FIA inspector says he will build a school in Jamshoro in the name of his daughter, Benazir, from the compensation money.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2011.