Alps plane crash: Lufthansa puts $300m aside for costs

Germanwings planes at airport Image copyright AFP
Image caption Germanwings owner Lufthansa could have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation

An additional $300m (€280m; £200m) has been put aside by Lufthansa to cover possible costs arising from last week's Germanwings plane crash.

Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings, said the money would cover "all costs arising in connection with the case".

Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande said the 150 victims would be identified by the end of the week.

An access road to the crash site has been completed to help speed up the recovery of bodies.

However, rescuers have warned the operation could still take several months.

Speaking at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Mr Hollande praised the work of scientists at the scene in the French Alps.

"The French interior minister confirmed that by the end of the week at the latest it will be possible to identify all of the victims thanks to DNA samples," he added.

None of the victims were found intact after the plane's 700kph (430mph) impact, but different strands of DNA have been identified at the site.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Hollande said "exceptional" scientific work had been carried out at the crash site
Image copyright AP
Image caption Candles and flowers were left at Duesseldorf airport in memory of the victims

Germany says that the $300m being put aside by Lufthansa is separate from the $54,250 (€50,000; £36,720) available to the relatives of each passenger to cover short-term expenses.

Airlines are obliged to compensate relatives for proven damages of up to a limit of about $157,000 (€135,000; £145,000) - regardless of what caused the crash - but higher compensation is possible if an airline is held liable.

On Monday it emerged that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, had at one point received treatment for suicidal tendencies before getting his pilot licence.

Lubitz, 27, is suspected of deliberately crashing the plane in the Alps, killing all 150 people on board.

Officials in Duesseldorf said the investigation so far had revealed no clue as to his motives.

German prosecutors say he underwent psychotherapy before getting his licence and that medical records from that period referred to "suicidal tendencies."

Lufthansa says that Lubitz's medical records were subject to doctor-patient confidentiality and it had no knowledge of their contents.

Andreas Lubitz: Germanwings co-pilot

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Andreas Lubitz left no letter, investigators say
  • Started training in 2008, at Bremen and Arizona. Training was interrupted for some months - but he later passed all tests and was deemed fit to fly
  • Working as co-pilot, or first officer, since 2013. Appeared pleased with his job
  • Lived in town of Montabaur, near Frankfurt, reportedly with his parents. Kept a flat in Duesseldorf and had many friends
  • Facebook profile suggests the active lifestyle of a keen runner, with an interest in pop music

Who was Andreas Lubitz?

Lufthansa also announced on Tuesday that it had cancelled plans to celebrate its 60th anniversary on 15 April.

On 17 April the airline will broadcast live coverage of a state memorial service at Cologne Cathedral.

Germanwings flight 4U 9525 crashed near the French Alpine village of Le Vernet on 24 March, flying from Barcelona to Duesseldorf.

The cockpit voice recorder suggested Lubitz crashed the plane deliberately after locking pilot Patrick Sondenheimer out of the cockpit.

The data recorder, which tracks the plane's altitude, speed and direction, has not yet been found.

Lufthansa board chairman Kay Kratky on Monday warned it may have been too badly damaged and may not be sending signals.

Unanswered questions

What drives people to murder-suicide?