Lufthansa Germanwings Flight 9525 was flown into a mountainside in France in March 2015, killing all 150 people on board. Some relatives may receive as little as 95,000 euros ($104,000) per victim in compensation. Others could receive millions according to lawyers representing the families.
Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings, said it was still negotiating with the victims’ families. They confirmed some may receive a minimum payout. The airline paid an initial sum of 50,000 euros per victim to help with immediate costs. They are offering at least 45,000 euros on top to families of the 72 German victims.
So far, none has accepted Lufthansa’s offer, and the discussions could drag on for months. Some relatives were so incensed they wrote an open letter to Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr. They slammed his handling of the disaster. They also called him out for failing to apologise as well as for not speaking with them directly.
Elmar Giemulla, a lawyer represented the families. He said Spohr has not agreed to meet them in their hometowns. Giemulla has proposed a minimum payment of 650,000 euros per German victim.
Andreas Bartels is a spokesman for Lufthansa. He would not confirm plans for the meeting. He said it was in the best interests of the families to keep these conversations private.
It is widely believed that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz crashed the plane into the French Alps after struggling with depression. The plane’s flight recorder or “black box” recovered after the crash, seems to indicate that the flight’s co-pilot deliberately locked the commanding pilot out of the cockpit, before changing course to crash the plane.
Germanwings cockpit protocols are in line with rules established by the German aviation safety authority, the Luftfahrt Bundesamt. This dictates that when there are two crew, one can leave the cockpit – but only for the absolute minimum time.
The co-pilot visited many doctors in the years leading up to the crash. At least one deemed him unfit to fly. Due to Germany’s strict confidentiality laws those who could prevent Lubitz from flying were not told about these issues. France is planning a criminal investigation.
Lufthansa’s spokesperson said the airline had taken every step possible to support the families. Furthermore Lufthansa has assigned 600 people to work with family members.
Different legal systems in different countries around the world are used to determine compensation. The German system discourages large payouts, while the U. S. system is extremely generous. Giemulla says American families receive an average payout of $6.5 million per plane crash victim.
Allianz is the lead insurer for Lufthansa, which owns the budget carrier Germanwings. Part of the cost will be paid out by underwriter AIG Aerospace. They cover war, hijacking and terrorism, as well as costs associated with passenger loss of life and third party damage. This includes payouts to family and relatives. Reuters also reported that Cathedral, a subsidiary of Lancashire holdings, is in charge of the war policy in the Germanwings case.