Lufthansa makes Germanwings compensation offer
Jun. 30, 2015
BERLIN (AP) — Lufthansa on Tuesday offered financial compensation to relatives of people killed in the Germanwings crash three months ago — a proposal that a lawyer representing many German families immediately described as inadequate.
Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings, is offering 25,000 euros ($27,740) in compensation per victim in all cases that fall under German law, plus payments of 10,000 euros each to immediate relatives. It wasn't immediately clear what compensation people claiming in other jurisdictions might expect, or how many people would fall under German regulations.
The airline said it also plans to set aside up to 7.8 million euros to support education for children who lost one or both parents, plus a 6 million euro fund that would provide "individual support for aid projects of the relatives." Money from that fund would be disbursed by a board of trustees that the company plans to set up in the coming months.
German lawyer Elmar Giemulla, who represents about 30 families of victims, described the offer as "completely inadequate."
Prosecutors believe the Airbus A320 was intentionally crashed into a French mountain by co-pilot Andreas Lubitz on March 24, killing all 150 people on board the flight from Barcelona to Duesseldorf.
Investigators say Lubitz locked the pilot out of the cockpit and flew the plane into the French mountainside after researching suicide methods and cockpit door rules and practicing an unusual descent. Lubitz, who had a history of depression and medical issues, was cleared to fly.
A task force that the German Transport Ministry set up in the wake of the crash to evaluate safety and security presented its interim report Tuesday. It concluded generally that more could be done to simplify the flow of information about pilots' medical and psychological evaluations.
But Matthias von Randow, the executive director of the German Aviation Association, who heads the task force, stressed that his investigators had not found any indication that the complexity of the regulations led to Lubitz's case falling through the cracks.
He also said any changes would have to be made at a European level, and take into account data protection controls and doctor-patient privilege rules so that they don't end up deterring pilots and other crewmembers from sharing concerns with physicians and others.
In other findings, Randow said that the taskforce saw no need to make any immediate changes to regulations on locking cockpit doors, but said that it supported the widespread move in the wake of the crash to mandate that at least two crew members must be in the cockpit at any given time.
Immediately after the crash, Lufthansa offered aid of up to 50,000 euros ($56,000) per passenger to their relatives in an initial payment that it described Tuesday as "advanced compensation."
Among the dead were citizens of more than a dozen countries, including 72 Germans. Fifty-one were Spanish nationals, and the victims also included three Americans.
The airline says all remains have now been returned to relatives. Lubitz himself was buried in a private ceremony in his parents' hometown of Montabaur, near Frankfurt, over the weekend.
Lufthansa said it will set up memorials at locations affected by the crash, including a "room of silence" in Le Vernet, France, near the crash site and plaques at Barcelona airport and Germanwings headquarters in Cologne. In the German town of Haltern, which lost 16 students and two teachers from one high school, trees already have been planted in tribute to the victims.