The CEO of AirAsia today pledged compensation for the persons aboard flight 8501, but the amount that families of the deceased will receive could vary widely.
Indonesia has not signed the newest aviation convention setting updated payouts for deadly air disasters, so if a person's ticket starts and ends in Indonesia – where the flight took off from – the grieving family could receive less.
In reality, airlines can pay what they see fit. Very often, they make initial payouts within the first two weeks to cover funeral and other up-front family expenses.
Robert Jensen, of Kenyon International Emergency Services, says most airlines have agreed to a minimum payment, typically about $25,000. He advises a follow-up payout of at least $175,000. Insurance companies may not pay up, but the airlines should, he says.
“You take care of the people and the bottom line is always enhanced,” he says.
Moreover, the alternative could be costly litigation.