Air India Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Arvind Jadhav denied “pilot fatigue” was to blame for the crash at the Bajpe Airport on Saturday.

Addressing the media in Mangalore on Sunday, Mr. Jadhav said both the pilot and the co-pilot had been “well-rested before they flew into Mangalore.” While co-pilot H.S. Ahluwalia had rested for three-and-a-half days, Zlatko Glusica had last flown on May 19. Ahluwalia, Mr. Jhadav pointed out, was stationed at Mangalore.

The CMD said 128 bodies have been “recognised and identified, while 12 were charred beyond recognition.” Eighteen bodies are still going through the post mortem process, he said.

In addition to the ex-gratia relief announced by the Prime Minister, Air India, in consultation with its insurers, will provide “interim compensation of Rs.10 lakh to the next of kin of all the deceased who were aged 12 and above. The interim compensation in the case of those below that age would be Rs.5 lakh. Air India would also pay an interim compensation of Rs.2 lakh to those who suffered injuries in the crash.

“We are yet to file our compensation claims with our insurers, Reliance Insurance and the general insurance Corporation,' Mr. Jadhav said.

“Where there are no disputes over the claims, Air India will directly make the compensation payments.” In cases of disputes, “the District administration would be roped in to sort out the issues,' he said. The interim compensation is “in partial fulfilment of the obligations under the Montreal Convention (Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage), he said. “Full payment will be made after Air India's claims are settled by the insurers.

Mr. Jadhav said Air India has set up Emergency Command Centres at Mangalore and Mumbai to provide information and assist the families of the deceased. The centres, he said, will help provide assistance to relatives and friends of the deceased in terms of travel, logistics and will help families coordinate with the local authorities.

The CMD said an aircraft is on standby at Mumbai, “ready to ferry families of the deceased to Kozhikode, Kochi and Mumbai because most passengers were from these destinations.”

“We have managed to establish contact with the families of every single passenger on the flight,” he added.

He said the crash “was a human tragedy” and refused to comment on “speculative theories” about the crash.

“The crash has had international ramifications and speculation will only hurt the chances of the passengers in the compensation process,” he said. He urged the media to “exercise restraint” and said those involved in the relief work are under “extreme stress.” “Most of them have been working continuously for almost 36 hours.”

Mr. Jadhav thanked the fire services, the police and other agencies for providing help. He praised the people of Mangalore, particularly those living in and around the crash site, for saving the lives of eight passengers. “Without their overwhelming support, these lives could not have been saved.”

“Our commitment to the aspirations of the people of the region is beyond question,” Mr. Jadhav said. He said any pilot who lands at Mangalore has to first come on a “proving flight” as a co-pilot before being allowed to handle aircraft descending at the Bajpe Airport. “The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has laid down a ‘security protocol' for airports such as these,” he said.

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