A senior Kenya Airways pilot has paid the ultimate price for his heroic efforts to evacuate Kenyans stranded in the Covid-19-hit New York.
Captain Daudi Kimuyu Kibati, who was taken ill on March 29, 2020, died on April 1, a week after performing his last international assignment.
His death was announced by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe during his daily press briefing on Friday, as the second patient to die in Kenya of coronavirus-related complications.
Captain Kibati was in charge of the last flight from New York to Nairobi which evacuated Kenyans stranded in the United States, before the government’s ban on international flights took effect last Wednesday.
Before the government suspended all international flights on March 25, Kenya Airways offered a one way complimentary ticket to Kenyans stranded in New York who wished to return home.
New York City was being put on lockdown on March 23, the same day the last KQ flight was departing from the John F Kennedy Airport.
By then, the death toll in New York had surpassed the 1,200 and more than 90,000 Covid-19 cases had been confirmed across the US.
According to sources at Kenya Airways who requested anonymity, Captain Kibati, who piloted the Dreamliner 787, was tasked with evacuating Kenyans from a city ravaged by the virus under very strict timelines.
The flight had to leave New York before the lockdown was announced by US President Donald Trump began and it had to arrive in Nairobi before March 25.
Upon touchdown at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on March 24, the 61-year-old pilot proceeded for self-quarantine, at the Ole Sereni Hotel, alongside his first officer.