Malaysia Airlines flight 17

Malaysia Airlines being 'rigid and bureaucratic' say victim families

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 July, 2014, 4:32am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 July, 2014, 4:32am

The family of two brothers who died on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 called the carrier "rigid and bureaucratic", saying it has offered no professional grief counselling in more than a week and refused to organise a flight home for the boys' grandmother.

Harun Calehr, the uncle of victims Miguel and Shaka Panduwinata, said the family's frustration has grown as they felt they had to haggle for help from the airline in the days after the Boeing 777 was shot down over Ukraine on July 17. "Everything that we got, we had to fight for," Calehr said.

Along with other relatives of victims, the family stayed in a hotel at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport and was tended to by Malaysia Airlines staff in the days after the disaster.

Miguel and Shaka were headed to Bali for a holiday with their grandmother when the jet was shot down, killing all 298 passengers and crew.

The family complains that there has been no offer of any grief counselling by the airline, that it refused to pay for the boys' grandmother to fly home to Texas from Amsterdam and that it has not yet paid out an initial reimbursement of US$5,000 it pledged to victims' next-of-kin.

Addressing the issue of the grandmother's flight, Malaysia Airlines said that only "immediate next-of-kin" were eligible for travel reimbursements.

The carrier added that the US$5,000 payment "requires a thorough verification process".

Malaysia Airlines did not specifically address the complaint about lack of counselling, but pledged to focus on the needs of family members.

Miguel and Shaka's next of kin are not the only ones who have not received the US$5,000 payout meant to cover initial expenses incurred by grieving families.

Silene Fredriksz-Hoogzand, whose son Bryce and his girlfriend Daisy Oehlers died on their way to a holiday in Bali, said she had not received any money.