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SIA offers USD10,000 to passengers hurt by turbulence

SINGAPORE (AFP) Singapore Airlines (SIA) said Tuesday it has offered USD10,000 compensation to passengers who suffered minor injuries on a flight hit by violent turbulence last month and will discuss higher payouts with those more badly hurt.

A 73-year-old British man died and several other passengers and crew onboard flight SQ321 from London suffered skull, brain, and spine injuries during the terrifying high-altitude ordeal.

The pilots diverted the Singapore-bound Boeing 777-300ER carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew to Bangkok, where the injured were taken to hospitals.

In a statement on Tuesday, the airline said it had sent out emails offering USD10,000 in compensation to passengers who sustained minor injuries during the incident.

“For those who sustained more serious injuries… we have invited them to discuss a compensation offer to meet each of their specific circumstances when they feel well and ready to do so,” the airline said.

“Passengers medically assessed as having sustained serious injuries, requiring long-term medical care, and requesting financial assistance are offered an advance payment of USD25,000 to address their immediate needs.

“This will be part of the final compensation these passengers will receive.”

In addition, the carrier said it would refund the airfares of all passengers on the flight, including those who were not injured.

“All passengers will also receive delay compensation by the relevant European Union or United Kingdom regulations,” it said.

Under the Montreal Convention, airlines are liable for damages for the injury or death of passengers while on an airplane.

Singapore Airlines earlier gave SGD1,000 (USD740) to each passenger departing Bangkok to their final destination to cover their immediate expenses.

It has also been shouldering the medical expenses of the injured passengers and has arranged for their family members to fly to Bangkok when it was requested.

“SIA remains committed to supporting the affected passengers on board SQ321,” the airline said.

Singpore’s transport ministry has said a sudden 54-metre (177-foot) altitude drop caused unbelted passengers on the flight to be thrown violently inside the cabin.

The ministry said the aircraft experienced a “rapid change” in gravitational force, or G-force, while the plane was passing over the south of Myanmar, citing a preliminary report by Singapore’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau.

The investigation team included experts from the TSIB, the US National Transportation Safety Board, the US Federal Aviation Administration, and the plane’s manufacturer Boeing.