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New Pact Covers Crash Payments

November 19, 1995

A new agreement that could lead to the first significant changes in the awarding of compensation to air crash victims in 30 years has been signed by a dozen world airlines.

The complex plan, which calls for doing away with ceilings on compensation outlined in the 66-year-old Warsaw Convention, would guarantee the injured victims and relatives of those killed in an air crash amounts similar to those paid to other accident victims in their own countries.

The sums would vary according to the standard of living and salaries in individual countries so that injured victims and relatives in the developed world would receive more than those from emerging nations.

In the United States, the pact could mean an end to the $75,000 cap that American families can collect if a relative dies or is injured on a flight to or from this country.

"This is an issue where airlines have said enough is enough; we have to come to a point where liability and payment approaches 21st-Century standards," said Wanda Potrykus, spokeswoman for the International Air Transport Assn. "Since the governments can't come to an agreement, we as international airlines will agree and then lobby our governments to pass this into law."

U.S. airlines have supported an update in liability for more than a decade, according to a spokesman at the Air Transport Assn.; most are expected to sign the agreement.

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