April 05, 2020: Captain Daudi Kimuyu Kibati who brought hundreds of Kenyan’s from New York to Nairobi on March 25, passed away on April 1. The Kenya Airways’ (KQ) pilot flew the final flight, which was very much directed towards repatriation efforts as the airline was offering free tickets for those who could not afford the cost of the flight.

Following the flight’s arrival in Nairobi, he then went into quarantine. He tested positive for Covid-19 over the weekend. According to Nairobi News, Kibati was checked in at Nairobi Hospital on March 29, due to breathing difficulties.

Kibati was a retired Major of the Kenya Air Force. The previous week, the pilot who was born in Maliku area of Kitui County had flown another flight from Nairobi to Rome, Italy, and back to Nairobi, before being dispatched to New York.

“On behalf of the board of directors, the management and the staff at Kenya Airways, we join the family of the late Captain Kibati in mourning their beloved one and pray that the Almighty God will strengthen them during this time of sorrow,” - Kenya Airways stated.

The daily flight using a B787-8 Dreamliner began on October 29, 2018 - making it the first in East Africa to fly non-stop into a US city.

The 63-year-old Kibati case is a reminder of the risk that airline workers around the world face in the course of their duties. In fact, The Star reports that two more pilots tested positive and were admitted to the same hospital as Kibati.

In a letter to the minister of civil aviation in India, a group of Air India pilots who have flown rescue missions says the personal protective equipment (PPE) issued was ill-fitting, substandard and easily disintegrated during the flight. Additionally, there were no enough sanitiser and the disinfection process of the aircraft did not meet industry standards.

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