Firing pilot could cost KQ Ksh181 million

KQ could dig deep to compensate pilot

A Kenya Airways plane

Kenya Airways risks paying John Miriti Mbarire Ksh181 million after the pilot refused to fly an alleged faulty plane.

Mbarire's contract was terminated for causing a 34-minute delay in a flight from Nairobi to Kisumu and for allegedly using wrong channels to request a sick day.

At the time, he was five years from retirement and now he wants KQ ordered to pay his salary and allowances for the period, totaling Ksh170.3 million, and damages of ksh11.3 million for unlawful dismissal.

Faulty plane

In its defense, KQ insists that Mbarire had a history of run-ins with authorities and his responses were considered insufficient by a panel that presided over his disciplinary hearings.

The pilot is accused of delaying the flight for 34 minutes and five days later he was served with a notice to explain why he should not be punished.

Mbarire argued that he could not guarantee regular braking once the aircraft touched the ground at Kisumu International Airport.

He also said that he feared that stress from the two flights he had completed that day did not make him the best person to fly the plane to Kisumu.

Risky flight

The pilot claimed that a colleague who last flew the aircraft had mentioned mechanical problems which he noticed as he directed the flight to Mombasa.

According to Mbarire, that was the third time the aircraft had exhibited mechanical problems on that day.

He said he feared it was too risky to fly the plane to Kisumu, which was at the time experiencing rainfall and thunderstorms, meaning the aircraft needed more than the 1,400 meters of available runway to safely land.

However, Kenneth Githuku, a chief pilot with KQ, claimed at the disciplinary hearings that the problem was attended to by engineers.

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