Carriage by Air (Amendment) Bill, 2008, will provide Indian air passengers increased compensation

New Delhi: With the passage of the Carriage by Air (Amendment) Bill, 2008, by the Lok Sabha, or the lower house of parliament on Wednesday, Indian air travellers will soon be entitled to a bigger compensation from airlines for lost or damaged baggage, flight delays, and injury or death in a mishap during travelling.

The passage of the Bill also removes the discrimination faced by an Indian passenger while flying abroad on a carrier, which offers much higher damages to a foreign co-passenger.

Tabled in the lower house of Parliament by civil aviation minister, Praful Patel, the Bill proposes to "facilitate higher compensation and prevent Indian passengers from discrimination."

For airlines, increased liabilities arising from higher compensation claims could also compel them to raise fares. The Bill seeks to increase compensation for "death or bodily injury" by seven times from $20,000 (about Rs8 lakh) to $140,000 (about Rs56 lakh).

For damages arising from loss of baggage, compensation claims could go up from $20 (about Rs 800) per kg to $1,400 (Rs56,000) per passenger.

The amendment to Carriage by Air Act, 1972, seeks to bring the liabilities of airlines in accordance with the "Montreal convention", which has already been ratified by 86 countries. India is likely to join the club. "In such a situation, non-accession to the convention by India may give rise to a situation involving serious discrimination between passengers of the same flight with regard to compensation. It is, therefore, necessary to accede to it," Patel said.

The new rates will be applicable for domestic passengers as well.