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Nepal Plane Crash 'Robbed Us Of Our Future', Devastated Families Say

Coroner To Write To ABTA To Warn Of Tour Operators’ Use Of Nepalese Airlines

08.04.2014

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

The families of British passengers killed in a plane crash in Nepal say the tragedy ‘robbed them of their future’ but have pledged to continue their fight to improve airline safety in the country.

Speaking after an inquest into the crash recorded a narrative verdict, the families of three Britons who died in the incident in September 2012 spoke of their anguish and how they are still coming to terms with their loss.

The Coroner said he will write to the travel industry trade body, ABTA, to warn about tour operators' use of blacklisted Nepalese airlines (NB. Explore no longer uses them). He also said he would write to tour operator Explore about baggage allowances as he highlighted that the aircraft was “overloaded, possible substantially overloaded”.
 
Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Aviation Law team acts for the loved ones of Tim Oakes, Benjamin Ogden and Steve Holding and the families of two other British victims, who were among 19 passengers (including seven Britons) and crew killed when a Sita Air-operated Dornier 228 aircraft crashed shortly after take-off from Kathmandu-Tribhuvan Airport.

An official accident report released in August last year identified a range of concerns including the overloading of the aircraft and suggestions that the pilots were not properly trained to handle an emergency that involves loss of power in one of the engines during take-off.

Following the conclusion of the inquest, Irwin Mitchell’s Aviation Law team have revealed their determination to ensure the families of those killed gain justice in relation to the incident and that measures are taken by the industry and authorities to improve flight safety and to ensure that when purchasing package holidays customers are informed of any known risks concerning transportation within the country in question.

The team has already secured an admission of liability from tour package provider Explore Worldwide Ltd in relation to the tragedy, while it also successfully campaigned for all Nepalese airlines to be blacklisted from operating in the European Union.

Jim Morris, a former RAF pilot and Partner in Irwin Mitchell’s Aviation Law team who represented families at the inquest, said:

Among the clients that Irwin Mitchell represents is Maggie Holding, from Stoke-on-Trent, whose husband Steve was killed in the crash. Commenting on today’s verdict, she said: “The crash has robbed Steve and I of the future we’d hoped to have.  The pain I felt seeing the burning plane on my TV screen will never leave me.
 
“The anger I feel about the tragedy is exacerbated by the fact that aviation safety in Nepal continues to fall well below EU required standards and there have been more crashes since 2012.
 
As a matter of urgency, Nepal must act on the recommendations made regarding ways to improve aviation safety for both its own people and tourists. British travel companies selling flight packages in Nepal have a duty to inform their clients fully about the risks involved.”

Angela Gaunt, from Warrington, whose husband Tim Oakes died in the tragedy, said: “Today's inquest brings to an end the formal process of providing a verdict on the death of my husband, Tim.   However it will not bring an end to the injustice and down-right carelessness of those responsible for this tragic event. It will also not take away the pain and sadness that still remains deep in our hearts. 

“We have spent a long and emotional 18 months working with others to understand why the plane crashed and how such sloppy procedures are tolerated and even encouraged.  For our own health and welfare, today must also be the day when we start to focus on ourselves and our own future.  

“As a family, we are grateful to the European Commission for blacklisting the Nepali Airline until such a time that they have put the 15 plus safety recommendations into place.  We are also grateful to the AAIB for managing to get the flight investigation report published and to our Family Liaison Offer whose support has been invaluable.

“Finally, our thoughts today also go out to the families of the passengers on the missing Malaysia plane, how dreadful it must be for them all."

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Aviation Accident Claims.

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