KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 – Malaysia Airlines faces the prospects of being sued for flying over war-torn Ukraine, which led to the downing of flight MH17, says an Australian news portal today.The Boeing 777-200, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in Ukraine in pro-Russian rebel-held territory on July 17, killing 298 people on board. Among those on board were 193 citizens from the Netherlands, 43 Malaysians and 27 Australians. MAS could face a negligence suit on top of the compensation payment of US$183,000 (RM593,000) per person as mandated by the Montreal Convention, reports news.com.au. The news portal said victims’ next-of-kin could sue the airline and even governments for allowing MH17 to fly over the Ukraine on July 17.
Earlier, another Australian newspaper had accused MAS of denying families full compensation. MAS denied the report and said it would fully compensate the families of those who died in the MH17 tragedy. MAS had provided families an advance payment of US$50,000, which would be part of the final damages payable. “MAS is acutely conscious of its moral and legal obligations to those affected by the terrible tragedy which befell our flight MH17 and has never sought to avoid paying full compensation in accordance with the law,” the airline said in a statement.
Under that law, MAS is liable regardless of whether it was responsible for causing death or injury and compensation payments are expected to take up to a year to finalise. The Dutch Safety Board is leading the investigation into the crash and its experts have identified 225 victims. The airspace over eastern Ukraine was closed immediately after downing of MH17 by a surface-to-air missile. The flight path had been approved and three other commercial jets were in the same airspace at the time of the incident. American airlines and Australian airline, Qantas, have been avoiding the area prior to the downing of MH17.