On Friday, October 28th, LOT Polish Airlines asked a US judge to declare it a crime victim as a part of the Boeing 737 MAX criminal case. If the judge approves and declares the airline a victim, the European carrier would likely be eligible for significant compensation from Boeing. The airline argues that the 20-month grounding of the MAX caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. All airlines whose 737 MAX aircraft were grounded would be entitled to millions in additional compensation if LOT’s request is approved.
LOT asked US District Judge Reed O’Connor in Texas to be counted as a victim of the Boeing 737 MAX case. The request comes a week after O’Connor ruled that those killed in the tragic 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 are legally considered “crime victims.” LOT argues that it should be given the same rights as the families of the victims.
Photo: Getty Images
Following two 737 MAX crashes, which killed 346 people, the MAX series was grounded in March 2019 for a period of 20 months. During this time, many airlines lost millions in potential revenue. The grounding order was a safety precaution taken to prevent any further accidents. Once substantial changes were made to the aircraft that supposedly fixed the problem that caused the two crashes, all MAX airplanes were allowed to return to the skies once they had received the prescribed maintenance and were fitted with the new safety technology.
During this grounding, LOT operated and leased 14 737 MAX airliners. It claims the grounding caused over $250 million in damages during this period. LOT has also petitioned the court to increase the amount Boeing must pay its customers affected by the grounding. Last year the airline approached Boeing directly about receiving additional compensation. Boeing declined this request. Following the denial, LOT sued Boeing for payment; the case is still pending.
Terms of settlement
Judge O’Connor will determine what remedies will be imposed for the victim’s families following last week’s decision. The US Department of Justice has asked O’Connor to wait until November 11th for it to release a memo about the remedies. Last year the Department of Justice reached a deferred prosecution agreement with Boeing. The deal came over a fraud conspiracy charge concerning the aircraft’s design.
Photo: Getty Images
Following the two crashes, several investigations into Boeing unearthed several accounts of fraud and conspiracy regarding the aircraft’s design and manufacturing process. The investigators discovered evidence of decisions made by company executives to cover up design flaws that contributed to the two tragic accidents. Following the investigations, changes to the airplane certification process were made. The MAX fleet was also grounded worldwide until the issue could be fixed.
The agreement between the Department of Justice and Boeing included a $1.77 billion compensation charge to the airlines, a $500 million compensation charge to the victim’s families, and a fine of $243.6 million. The two crashes and subsequent reforms cost Boeing $20 billion. LOT has stated that the $1.77 billion settlement fund designated for the airlines has not been made available to non-US airlines.
What do you think of LOT’s compensation request? Let us know in the comments below.
LOT Polish Airlines
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Warsaw Chopin Airport
- Year Founded:
- Star Alliance
- Rafal Milczarski