JurisdictionUnited States
Publication year2021

§ 2A.07 Foreign Intra-Country Aviation Accidents Not Covered by the Montreal Convention

What is the value of a U.S. citizen's life while traveling on airlines outside of the United States. I use the United States as the benchmark because, perhaps, nowhere is there a higher value on a life, at least in terms of the compensation that may be recovered in court for wrongful death or physical and emotional injuries suffered by a traveler. Most travelers may have little understanding of their rights and remedies before they board foreign intra-country commercial aircraft.

[1] Airlines: Liability and Damages Limitations

Analysis of the value of a life abroad starts with a study of commercial aviation accidents and liability and damages limitations. First, the rules in the United States:517 "[Commercial a]ir carriers cannot disclaim liability for their own negligence and they cannot limit negligence liability [damages] in cases involving [wrongful death or] physical injuries, although they may do so regarding flight delays,518 the carriage of baggage519 and within the context of high risk activity such as aerial sightseeing."520

[2] Montreal Convention and the EU

As has been discussed in this Chapter, U.S. citizens leaving aboard an air carrier delivering "international carriage" should be protected by the Montreal Convention (previously the Warsaw Convention). For Article 17, where physical injury damages that exceed 100,000 SDRs, the carrier will not be liable if the carrier proves it took "all necessary measures that could reasonably be required to avoid the damage or that it was impossible for it or them to take such measures." The value of SDRs can be determined by reference to the International Monetary Fund website. The Montreal Convention provides an inflation factor and presently the limit is 113,000 SDRs or about $175,800. As of February 2014, 105 countries including the EU521 have signed the Montreal Convention.

[3] Intra-Countr y Air Transportation

The danger and uncertainty for U.S. travelers is when they book flights on airlines banned by the EU522 or on foreign airlines providing intra-country or internal air transportation. In this regard, some countries such as China523 and many others such as Kazakhstan524 are vigorously promoting themselves as new and exciting travel destinations and rapidly building up their internal air transportation capabilities. While new aircraft are being purchased and new airports being built, what is not clear is the...

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