Three top government officials have threatened to file a lawsuit against the leading regional airline, Kenya Airways (KQ), over what they termed as mistreatment, humiliation, harassment, disrespect and abuse of clients travelling with the airliner.
Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama, the deputy Speaker of Parliament Denis Polisi and Senator Specioza Ayinkamiye, made the threats yesterday at Kigali International Airport after their ‘long frustrating’ flight from Nairobi to Kigali.
“We are protesting in the strongest terms at the treatment extended to us by the management of Kenya Airways,” said Karugarama, who is also the Attorney General.
Narrating their ordeal, Karugarama said that he arrived in Nairobi on Thursday from Amsterdam and was supposed to connect to Kigali at 23:00hrsGMT.
“We boarded the plane heading to Rwanda and along the way, we were informed by the pilots that the weather in Kigali was not good and that we would land in Bujumbura,” he said.
“We are not questioning the wisdom of the pilot not to land in Kigali, but in Burundi, we were put in a transit lounge for many hours and there was nobody to talk to take care of the stranded passengers. There were flights taking off from Bujumbura heading to Kigali but nobody bothered to put us on any of them.”
Karugarama said that there were about 45 other passengers on the same flight.
“From Burundi, we boarded heading to Rwanda, but as we flew over Mwanza, Tanzania, the pilot told us that we are actually heading back to Nairobi! We landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi around 08:00 am only to be informed that our flight was not due until 17:00hrs,” said the enraged Minister.
The Minister said that the Kenya Airways operations manager at the airport was reluctant to book them on the next flight to Kigali.
“There were several flights coming to Kigali but Kenya Airways could neither book us on another airline nor put us on their next flight to Kigali,” Karugarama said.
“After the mistreatment, we decided to buy tickets from Rwandair; only five people managed to purchase new tickets and we left 40 passengers stranded in Nairobi.”
He added that each of the five people bought a one way ticket to Kigali at $235.
“We are going to talk to our lawyers and file a lawsuit in Kenyan courts against Kenya Airways and we believe the Kenyan judiciary will accord us fair justice,” said the Justice Minister.
He said that they would sue for general damages, special damages, exemplary damages humiliation, anguish, poor customer care and mistreatment.
Meanwhile, Polisi and Ayinkamiye were delayed for two days at Schiphol International Airport in Amsterdam by the same airline, Kenya Airways, over what it claimed was technical failure of one of their aircrafts.
Several efforts to contact Kenya Airways Country Manager in Kigali, David Ndirangu, were fruitless as his phone was continuously off the hook.