Senate committee approves final report on Chapecoense plane crash 

A plane carrying the Chapecoense team crashed near Medellín, Colombia. In the photo, Colombia's air force soldiers carries a coffin of a Chapecoense soccer player. Photo: Antonio Scorza/Shutterstock
A plane carrying the Chapecoense team crashed near Medellín, Colombia, back in 2016. In the photo, Colombia’s air force soldiers carry a coffin of a Chapecoense soccer player. Photo: Antonio Scorza/Shutterstock

A Senate hearings committee on the 2016 Chapecoense plane crash approved its final report on Monday. Senator Jorginho Mello, the committee’s chair, announced that the “humanitarian fund” created in lieu of compensation for the victims’ families can be increased from USD 25 to 30 million if all families sign up within 30 days. If all 68 families agree, they will receive around USD 441,000 each.

The “humanitarian fund” was proposed by insurance companies Tokio Marine and its partners as a “voluntary” offer, instead of the insurers assuming liability for payments related to the plane crash. 

Bisa, the Bolivian insurance company for the now-defunct LaMia airline, argued LaMia broke contractual obligations, including by defaulting on payments. The committee’s report, signed by Senator Izalci Lucas, says the insurance company’s refusal to take responsibility is “outrageous”, as Bisa did not warn Bolivian aviation regulators about the insurance being suspended before the crash, and thus must assume LaMia’s liabilities.

Mr. Lucas wrote that the fund “is nothing more than a roguish expedient for the insurance company Bisa and the reinsurer Tokio Marine to avoid future legal action by the victims and their families.” 

He added that “there is a clear intention to evade the civil responsibilities resulting from the tragedy with the LaMia flight, since the insurance company, brokers, and reinsurers directly participated in the creation of a tailor-made insurance policy so that the aforementioned airline could resume operations.”

Senator Mello recently traveled to London to meet Tokio Marine representatives. His tone at the committee’s final meeting was very different from the rapporteur’s. Mr. Mello announced that compensation from the ‘humanitarian fund’ will be increased for the 24 families that have already signed up even if the remaining 44 families do not join in. Joining the fund does not preclude judicial action against British reinsurer AON.

LaMia flight 2933 crashed near the Colombian city of Medellín in November 2016, while transporting the Chapecoense team to the final of the Copa Sudamericana football tournament. 

The charter flight had barely enough fuel to make its planned trip from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, in Bolivia, to Medellín. The crash killed 71 passengers and crew (68 of them Brazilian), including the vast majority of the Chapecoense football team. Six people survived.