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Passengers stranded because Jambojet pilot could not fly

Passengers aboard a Jambojet flight recently found themselves stranded in Eldoret town after a pilot declared he could not fly to Nairobi.

A Jambojet Boeing 737-300.

A Jambojet Boeing 737-300.

Flight KQ8865 was scheduled to leave Eldoret at 7:15pm on 24 July 2014. Passengers were hurriedly shoved into one of Jambojet’s Boeing 737s and pleasantly surprised to be told they would be leaving Eldoret before the scheduled departure time.

However, the passengers’ experience turned into dismay when the pilot said he could not fly. A passenger whose name we have withheld on request narrated the ordeal.

“When the plane arrived, we were hurriedly asked to board the minute the last passenger disembarked. This didn’t come across as different. However after sitting on the tarmac for about 20 minutes, during which we had even been taken through the emergency talk, the captain came back on with bad news.”

“In his ‘greet the passengers speech’ the captain had intimated that we had a tight window to take off and was just waiting clearance and we’d be on our way. Our flight was scheduled for a 7.15pm take off, but the pilot said he expected us to be airborne earlier. He didn’t explain why though, just stressed the importance of an early take off. When he came on next it was with the bad news that the flight was cancelled. Referring to his earlier message, he informed us he was out of flying hours and so he cannot fly us to Nairobi.”

Passengers on the flight were reportedly furious with the captain’s shock announcement. Some refused to leave the aircraft. Eventually, everybody disembarked but vented out their frustration on the ground staff.

To its credit, Jambojet took the stranded passengers to hotels in Eldoret town. The next morning, the passengers were flown to Nairobi where Jambojet CEO Willem Hondius received them and apologized on behalf of the airline.

In a letter to each passenger, Hondius acknowledged that the pilot in question had exceeded his flying hours.

“The captain operating the aircraft was in doubt if he was still within his number of hours he is allowed to fly. He didn’t want to take the risk and decided not to operate the aircraft. In situations like this, the captain is in charge of the operation and can therefore decide not to operate,” said Hondius.

The Jambojet passenger who narrated this story is going to need more than an apology letter to win her over.

“We understand flying hours for pilots are in place to protect passengers from fatigued pilots,” she says. “My biggest disappointment with Jambojet was that they let a pilot who was about to exceed his flying hours on round trip duty.”

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