The Jakarta Post
Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini says her administration is ready to sue AirAsia should it ignore the rights of the families of passengers on flight QZ8501, following the suspension of the airline's flight permit from the East Java city to Singapore.
'If the insurance claims fail to be honored, then as the flight was regarded illegal, we will fight and sue AirAsia because life insurance is part of the passengers' families' rights and must be upheld by the company,' said the mayor, who is widely known as Risma, in Surabaya, on Wednesday.
Risma said her administration had also consulted with legal experts from Airlangga University on the fears of most families regarding the difficulties in disbursing insurance funds, after the Transportation Ministry regarded the Surabaya-Singapore flight on Dec. 28 as illegitimate.
'Although the flight was stated as illegal, passengers bought the tickets legally. They didn't buy the tickets through scalpers, or illicitly, so they have rights regarding insurance,' said Risma.
The mayor said her administration continued to collect data on the victims, including their valuable belongings.
The data would later be used for insurance purposes and matters related to the beneficiary rights of the affected families.
'The bodies of some victims have yet to be recovered, so who will be entitled to the insurance claim? It's no easy task, but it doesn't mean it's impossible. I'm only helping the victims' families,' said Risma.
Risma added her administration had also communicated with banks in Surabaya and the central bank, Bank Indonesia, to keep in place assets owned by the victims, such as fixed deposits, mutual funds and other valuables.
As reported earlier, AirAsia flight QZ8501 crashed in the Karimata Strait around 40 minutes into its journey from Juanda International Airport in Surabaya to Changi Airport, Singapore on Dec. 28, 2014.
It was recently revealed that the plane, carrying 155 passengers and seven crew members, had flown illegally because according to a letter issued by the Air Transportation Directorate General dated Oct. 24, 2014, on overseas flights during the winter period from 2013 to 2015, AirAsia Indonesia was allowed to operate Surabaya-Singapore flights only on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
A relative of a victim, Joko Santoso, said AirAsia had yet to discuss insurance with the victims' relatives.
AirAsia has only given forms for the initial compensation of Rp 300 million (US$25,000) per victim.
'In a meeting with victims' families, AirAsia said it would pay the remaining compensation, but did not mention the total amount of compensation,' said Joko.
AirAsia Indonesia president director Sunu Widiyatmoko said the airline had ensured each victim would receive Rp 1.25 billion in compensation, which would be disbursed when the recovery and identification process was complete.
'We will never shun our responsibility. From the start, we've promised to provide compensation. However, for the sake of the relatives' feelings, we never disclose the amount of compensation to the public,' said Sunu.
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