Families who lost relatives in fatal Boeing 737 Max air crashes are set to receive about $144,500 (£116,200) each from the company.
The money comes from a $50 million financial assistance fund, which Boeing announced in July.The fund has started accepting claims, which must be submitted before 2020.
Lawyers for the victims’ families, many of whom are pursuing the company in court, have dismissed the fund as a publicity stunt saying that the $144,000 doesn’t come close to compensating any of their families or any of the families.
The 737 Max has been grounded since March, as investigators evaluate the airplane’s safety following fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, which claimed the lives of more than 340 people.
Boeing in July pledged $100 million to families and communities affected by the crashes.
The company later said half would be reserved for direct payments to families, with the other half set aside for education and development programmes in affected communities.
Robert A. Clifford, lead counsel for the Ethiopian Airlines 302 litigation, said the lack of detail at the time of the initial announcement suggested Boeing saw it primarily as a way to divert attention from the safety questions.
Family members, many of whom would like to see memorials erected, continue to have questions about how the company intends to spend the other $50 million, he added.
“One of the most haunting things about an aviation disaster like this is that the families do not in many instances get anything back,” he said.
In a statement, Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenberg called the opening of the fund to family claims an “important step” in the firm’s efforts to help relatives of the people who died in the Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes.
Participation in the fund is voluntary.
Families who submit claims will not have to waive their right to file separate lawsuits against the firm, said Kenneth R. Feinberg, administrator for the financial assistance money, who has overseen the distribution of money for victims of the September 11 attacks, among other funds.
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