Govt signs convention to protect air freight


Transport operators using airlines will now be compensated for delayed or damaged freight

Transport operators using airlines will now be compensated for delayed or damaged freight.

The Rudd Government this week ratified the Montreal Convention, which enacts a new compensation scheme for freight operators and passengers.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese says the convention, which applies to countries which have signed it, introduces tougher liabilities for airlines losing or damaging freight shipments.

"Some 86 countries have already ratified the Convention, including most major destinations for Australian travellers," Albanese says.

Reimbursement for damaged shipments will be assessed on a per weight basis and will be limited to the package or packages involved.

However, liability claims may be greater if a package affects the value of another, with the convention extending compensation claims to products related to the damaged shipment.

Airlines that substitute freight carriage by another mode of transport without the consignor’s consent will also be held responsible for any damage.

However, airlines will be exempted from liability if they can prove the cargo had an inherent defect, defective packing, or if it was damaged by an act of war or armed conflict.

Airlines will also escape responsibility if they can prove the freight was damaged by public authorities while being loaded, unloaded or transported.

By ratifying the convention, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese says the Government has replaced the outdated system agreed to in the 1920s.

The compensation cap for death or injury has been removed, while the currency determining payouts has been updated. Passenger airlines will also be responsible for damaged or lost baggage.

"The Convention was negotiated in 1999, is administered by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and applies to flights between signatory countries," Albanese says.

The convention applies to operators in countries such as the US, UK, European Union, Japan, China and New Zealand.

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