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Pilot seeks Ksh. 181 million from Kenya Airways after they forced him to fly a faulty plane

Kenya Airways now risks paying Ksh. 181 million to a pilot after their decision to sack him following his refusal to fly a faulty plane.

John Miriti Mbarire’s contract with the national carrier was terminated after he caused a 34-minute delay in a flight from Nairobi to Kisumu on 25th March 2017 and for allegedly “using wrong channels” to request a sick day.

Mr. Mbarire, who was 5 years from retirement at the time of termination now wants KQ ordered to pay his salary and allowances for the period which total to Ksh. 170.3 million and damages of Ksh. 11.3 million for “unlawful dismissal”.

Had Mbarire completed the remaining 69 months of his flying career at KQ, he would have taken home Ksh. 65.2 million in salaries, Ksh. 95.9 million in flying allowances, Ksh. 6.2 million in insurance cover for himself and his family and Ksh. 3 million in travel allowances.

The carrier insists that his dismissal was was done rightfully and that Mr. Mbarire had a history of run-ins with authorities and that his responses were considered “insufficient” by a panel that presided over his disciplinary hearings.

KQ says that five days after he caused the 34-minute delay, he was served with a notice that required him to show why he shouldn’t have been punished for causing the delay and ruin the brand’s reputation.

In his response, Mbarire gave a list of reason. One of them being that he could not guarantee regular braking once the aircraft touched the ground at the Kisumu International Airport and that his colleague who had last flown the aircraft, experienced mechanical problems on his way to Mombasa; which was the third time the aircraft had exhibited such mechanical problems.

He added that he feared that the stress from his two previous flights completed that day, made him unsuitable to fly the plane.

He also mentioned that it was too risky to fly at the time due to the heavy rainfall and thunderstorms that had taken over the skies which meant the aircraft needed at least 1,400 metres of available runway in order to safely land.

The airline disputed his claims saying that engineers had attended to the aircraft’s mechanical problems and added that Mr. Mbarire should have informed them of his stress levels in advance.

In further defense of themselves, KQ said that in 2013, Mr. Mbarire had been reported for not being a “team player” and showing “a negative attitude” during a flight training exercise in South Africa.

Mbarire admitted to having raised his voice and pointing at a crew member with his clipboard.

“In conclusion, Kenya Airways avers that Mr. Mbarire’s termination was procedural and fair. Therefore, the ‘particulars of loss and damage’ enumerated in his memorandum of claim are ill-informed, unwarranted and not in the least bit substantiated,” said Mr. Bajaber Abubakar, a KQ Chief Pilot, in his affidavit.

The case is set to be heard at the Milimani Employment and Labour Relations Court.

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