Malaysia Airlines now faces missing millions as well as a missing plane.
According to one leading aviation lawyer, the airline could face a massive damages claim from those 239 passengers lost in the flight MH370, which remains missing with Australia now the focal point for the search for the flight that disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Aviation lawyer Floyd Wisner represented families in the crash of Air France Flight 447 in the Atlantic five years ago and is now saying that a damages claims against Malaysian Airlines culd be worth more than half a billion dollars.
ABC reports Wisner saying: “I’ve sat across kitchen tables and living rooms with many, many families and have seen the agony of a loss like this,” Mr Wisner said.
“To not know what’s happened to your loved ones makes it so much worse. It’s very important that they just get answers. That they just get told what’s going on.”
Mr Wisner says it is likely the airline will have claims made against it, as well as the possibility of a claim against Boeing – the aircraft manufacturer – and Rolls Royce, who made the plane’s engines.
He says there may be difficulties pursuing damages due to the various jurisdictions of each company, but notes that “it can be done”.
“The kicker is that the Montreal Convention, the international treaty, will govern where you can bring a suit against Malaysia Airlines,” he said.
“And generally it’s in the jurisdiction where either the passengers reside or the tickets were bought or the place of destination or the home of the airline – which means that the Chinese passengers generally will have to bring suit in China, the Malaysian passengers in Malaysia, et cetera.
“The difference will be the claim against the manufacturer – Boeing – can be brought anywhere. Particularly in Boeing’s home state of Illinois, which is of course my home.”
He says wreckage does not need to be located before a claim can be brought.
“We actually litigated and resolved the Adam Air lawsuit even before a wreckage was ultimately found in that case,” he said.
“We resolved the Air France case as the air wreckage was being recovered. So it’s possible, but difficult.”
Mr Wisner says he cannot believe the search effort has failed to find any trace of the plane. “Have we not learned anything? We can put a man on the moon; look at what we can do with this age of internet and cell phones, and we can’t find a jumbo jet?” he said.