Kenya Airways Pilot Died Coronavirus
Kenya Airways Pilot Died Coronavirus

Kenya Airways Pilot Dies of Coronavirus

A senior Kenya Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner captain has tragically passed away, a week after commanding a repatriation flight to New York City, USA.

Captain Daudi Kimuyu Kibati, became ill on March 29th, he died on April 1st, a week after performing his last international assignment for Kenya Airways.

a man in a suit and tie
Captain Daudi Kimuyu Kibati tragically passed away. Picture: Supplied

Captain Kibati was in command of the last flight from New York to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, which evacuated Kenyan citizens stranded in the United States, before the government’s ban on international flights took effect last Wednesday.

Captain Kibati’s death comes in the wake of Taiwanese pilots also testing positive to coronavirus, raising concerns about the safety of airline crews worldwide.

Before the government suspended all international flights on March 25th, Kenya Airways offered a one-way complimentary ticket to Kenyans stranded in New York City who wished to return home to Kenya.

a plane flying in the sky
Captain Kibati flew Kenya Airways’ 787 Dreamliner. Picture: Flickr

New York City was put on lockdown on March 23rd, notably the same day the last KQ flight was departing from the John F Kennedy International Airport.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, the Management and Staff of Kenya Airways, we join the family of Captain Kibati in mourning their beloved one and pray that the Almighty God will strengthen them during this time of sorrow.”

Evelyne Munyoki, Chief Human Resources Officer, Kenya Airways

According to senior sources at Kenya Airways, who requested anonymity, Captain Kibati, a senior captain on the Dreamliner, was tasked with evacuating Kenyans from coronavirus-ravaged New York under very strict timelines.

The flight had to depart New York before a statewide lock down was commenced, it had to arrive in Nairobi before March 25th.

Kenya Airways has repatriated Kenyan citizens from virus-stricken New York City

Upon touchdown at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on March 24th, the 61-year-old pilot commenced self-quarantine in a Nairobi hotel; joining him was his first officer who has subsequently also tested positive for coronavirus.

a map of the earth with a red line
The captain operated his last flight from JFK Airport to Nairobi

Captain Kibati, a retired Major of the Kenya Air Force, tested negative for coronavirus upon arrival in Nairobi and two more times over the following days; he stayed isolated from his family and friends until March 29th, when he developed sore throat and fever.

“He tested positive for coronavirus on the eighth day after undergoing rigorous medical screening in all the cities he flew to, and three more tests in Nairobi which were negative. He was admitted to hospital immediatly after testing positive [to coronavirus]”

Arnold Kibati, brother of victim

Kenya’s national newspaper, the Daily Nation, has also since learned that Captain Kibati’s first officer on the flight from New York City to Nairobi, as well as an unknown number of flight attendants, have also tested positive to the virus and are undergoing treatment.