By Ashwin Hemmathagama
The Government received House approval for the Carriage by Air Bill and regulations under the Civil Aviation Act tabled yesterday in Parliament.
The Carriage by Air Bill was moved by Transport and Civil AviationMinister Nimal Siripala de Silva to give effect to the convention for the unification of certain rules for International Carriage by Air and to provide for matters connected with the Montreal Convention of 1999.
Moving the motion, Minister de Silva highlighted the development in air travel despite the unlimited risk connected to the lives and property of passengers.
“Annually over four billion passengers and 50 million tons of cargo use air transport. Even though air transport is considered one of the safest travelling modes there is a possibility for accidents to happen. In the event of the death of passengers, passengers getting injured, flight delays, loss of belongings and luggage, luggage delays and damages, the airlines should compensate,” he said.Enabling Sri Lankans to benefit in the event of a mishap, the ratification of the Montreal Convention will fall into place, according to the Minister.
“The Montreal Convention of 1999 sets the conditions and responsibilities that should be borne by an airline. This universal convention is adopted by 131 countries. Adopting the Montreal Convention is beneficial for passengers where Sri Lanka ratified in 1999. When it comes to compensation, if a passenger dies from an accident related to air transport the beneficiaries will be paid a minimum of $ 160,000. Previously this was limited to $ 25,000. A flight delay will be compensated with $ 6,000 and delayed luggage will be paid $ 1,600. You need not go abroad to take legal action but can do it in Sri Lanka with the new legal framework,” he said.
The Safety Management Regulations, which received house approval, will establish new regulations for airlines operating in Sri Lanka in terms of operations, maintenance of aircrafts and engines, technical qualifications of maintenance staff, pilot training, health and eyesight.