Airline accused of denying crash liability
THE airline at the centre of the Cork Airport tragedy in which six people died was accused last night of trying to deny responsibility for the crash.
A UK law firm, acting for one of the six survivors, warned that the position of Manx2.com was unacceptable.
Stewarts Law, a leading London-based aviation law firm, said it had been contacted by solicitors for Manx2.com and that the carrier was now denying responsibility for the crash.
They said it appeared Manx2 were attempting to pass responsibility to Flightline BCN, the operators of the plane.
A 19-year old Fairchild Metroliner leased by Manx2 from a Spanish carrier crashed as it was making its third landing attempt in dense fog last Thursday. Six people -- including the two-man crew -- were killed while six were injured.
Manx2.com is a so-called 'cyber' airline -- it does not own its own aircraft, which are all leased, and does not provide its own flight crew.
Last night, James Healy-Pratt, head of Stewarts Law's aviation department, said it was a very worrying development.
"Manx2 are responsible under international, EU and domestic laws for this accident. It is simply not acceptable for Noel Hayes (airline chairman) and Manx2 to ignore their legal and moral responsibilities to the bereaved and injured in this way," he said. "Stunned by this denial, our clients will be reporting Manx2 to the EU Consumer and Safety Regulators this week."
Last night, Manx2.com said it had chartered the aircraft from a fully insured carrier.
"We continue to extend our deepest sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives in Cork and to those who are still recovering," Manx2.com chairman Noel Hayes told the Irish Independent.
"In the interest of legal clarity around the issue of liability and insurance at this stage, I can reassure those concerned that the Belfast/Cork service was operated by Flightline BCN and Manx2.com charters all aircraft from only European AOC (Air Operators Certificate) holders under an Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance contract.
"These carriers maintain full insurance at or above Civil Aviation Authority minimum levels.
"This kind of arrangement is common in the aviation industry and ensures the necessary cover for passengers and their families in the event of such awful circumstances."
Mr Healy-Pratt pointed out that Manx2.com acted as contracting carrier and offered, sold and provided the tickets for passengers who used the Belfast-Cork route involved.
"The law in relation to actual and contracting carriers is very simple.
"Within Europe all commercial flights are governed by European Regulation, EU889/2002 which implements the provisions of an international aviation treaty called the Montreal Convention," Mr Healy-Pratt said.
"Both the Montreal Convention and European Regulation make one thing clear -- a passenger that suffers death or injury has the right to seek compensation from either the contracting carrier or actual carrier," Mr Healy-Pratt said.
"Manx2 are attempting to refute the word of the law and seeking to unload their liability to the families onto Flightline BCN."