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Flights disrupted at Nairobi's JKIA as aviation workers strike

JKIA passengers
Stranded passengers at the JKIA in Nairobi. PHOTO | COURTESY 

Hundreds of passengers were Wednesday stranded at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi after aviation workers went on strike.

The strike has been called to protest against unfair staff hiring, poor remuneration and the proposed takeover of the airport by Kenya Airways (KQ).

It involves ground staff, cargo operators and other support service workers who are members of the Kenya Aviation Workers Union (Kawu).

Workers in duty-free shops and flight attendants have also downed their tools.

Following the strike, Kenya Airways (KQ) advised all its passengers scheduled to fly out from 11am Wednesday not to go to the airport until further communication.

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In a notice to all its passenger KQ advised travellers not to go to JKIA as no operations would be going on.

Flights to Amsterdam, Mumbai and London were, however, not affected, with passengers allowed to check in.

In a press statement, the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) said they were taking measures to ensure normalcy returns.

KAA advised all passengers to contact their respective airlines on their travel arrangements.

Strike to continue

The union, which has a membership of about 10,000, a quarter of whom are KQ employees excluding pilots, says the strike will continue until the KAA and KQ managers are sacked.

“We have withdrawn all our services ranging from security, air traffic control, customer care, ground flight services, equipment operations,” Kawu secretary general Moss Ndiema told the Business Daily on Wednesday.

“We advise airline customers to consider alternative travel arrangement until the two leaves office,” he said.

JKIA is the busiest airport in East Africa and the sixth busiest in Africa.

Besides Kenya Airways, the airport handles airlines such as British Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, RwandAir, Emirates, South African Airways, Turkish Airlines among others.

An estimated 5.89 million international travellers passed through JKIA in 11 months to the end of November last year, compared with 5.79 million passengers in the full year 2017.

The go-slow by Kawu workers will therefore mean that hundreds of passengers will have to book other flights or reschedule their travel plans.

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