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Flyers to now get higher relief for injury, baggage loss, delay

Air passengers will now get higher compensation that could amount up to Rs 1 crore in the event of death, injury, loss of baggage or inordinate delay in flights, with an amended legislation coming into force. Indian airlines would have to pay compensation that is equivalent to the rates paid by their global counterparts. The quantum would be based on Special Drawing Rights (SDR) and current exchange rates, and the compensation amount could be up to Rs 1 crore.

Providing for increased compensation to air travellers, the amended Carriage by Air Act received assent from the President on March 21, as per a government communication.

The Carriage by Air (Amendment) Bill was cleared by the Parliament on March 11. With the amended law coming into force, the government can now revise the liability limits of airlines in line with the Montreal Convention, which was acceded to by India in May 2009. Under the amended Act, the government has powers to issue notifications for the purpose of determining the liabilities of the carriers and extent of compensation for damages.

Among others, the compensation for death in an air accident and the amount would be calculated on the basis of SDR (Special Drawing Rights). The liability limit for damage in case of death or bodily injury for each person would rise to 1,13,100 SDR from 1,00,000 SDR. As per the latest exchange rate, the compensation limit rises to more than Rs 1 crore. One SDR was equivalent to Rs 93.49 as on March 23. The currency value of the SDR is based on market exchange rates of a basket of major currencies - US dollar, Euro, Japanese Yen and Pound Sterling. The liability amount for delay in carriage for each person would be hiked to 4,694 SDR from 4,150 SDR while in the case of destruction, loss, damage or delay of baggage the compensation would rise to 1,131 SDR from 1,000 SDR.

With regard to destruction, loss or delay in relation to the carriage of cargo, the liability money would be 19 SDR compared to 17 SDR earlier. The liability limits are revised once every five years by the UN body International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on the basis of a determined inflation factor of 13.1 per cent, triggering an adjustment in the limits. The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on December 2015 and by the Rajya Sabha, with certain amendments, on March 2. The bill, along with the amendments, was cleared by the Lower House on March 11. 
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