Sat, Dec 27, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Japanese court tells CAL to pay

COMPENSATION The Nagoya District Court said a China Airlines pilot involved in a 1994 crash that killed 264 people ignored basic procedures

REUTERS , TOKYO

A Japanese court told China Airlines Co (華航) yesterday to pay ?5 billion (US$46.61 million) in compensation for a 1994 crash in central Japan that killed 264 people.

In a ruling at the Nagoya District Court, presiding judge Junko Ikadatsu ordered China Airlines to pay the compensation to 232 plaintiffs over the crash of its Airbus A300-600R plane.

The plane, arriving from Taipei with 271 people on board, stalled and crashed during a landing attempt at Nagoya airport on April 26, 1994. The plane disintegrated as it hit the runway, killing all but seven of the people on board.

"The pilot ignored the most basic, yet the most important, duty. It was just reckless," Ikadatsu told the court. "The relation of cause and effect is clear. China Airlines ought to compensate for all damages."

A company spokesman in Taipei said China Airlines respected the verdict but had not yet decided whether to appeal to a higher court.

He stressed that China Airlines' operations would not suffer if it had to pay out.

"As for the compensation, we have insurance coverage so it will not affect our operations," he said.

China Airlines had offered to pay ?16.4 million compensation per victim, a total of ?4.33 billion.

The plaintiffs, blaming fatal piloting errors and flawed aircraft design for the crash, had sought a total of ?19.6 billion in compensation from China Airlines and Airbus, the European plane maker.

In handing down yesterday's ruling, Ikadatsu said Airbus should not be held responsible for Japan's second-most-deadly plane crash.

"It cannot be said that Airbus' design concept for the aircraft lacked rationality and that there was actually a flaw in the design," Kyodo news agency quoted Ikadatsu as saying.

Airbus is owned 80 percent by European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co NV, based in Germany and France, and 20 percent by Britain's BAE Systems Plc.

Before the verdict was announced, shares in China Airlines rose 0.34 percent to close at NT$14.9 against a 0.06 percent rise on the TAIEX.

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