The government urged the pilots of Kenya Airways PLC (KQNA.NR), one of Africa’s biggest carriers, to end the strike, but they went on strike on Saturday, cancelling more than two dozen flights and leaving thousands of passengers stranded.
Business and leisure travellers will be impacted by the strike, which began at 6 a.m. (0300 GMT), at one of Africa’s most important aviation hubs.
The management of the airline, according to the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA), refused to consider their proposals on how to address their grievances.
No KQ (Kenya Airways) aircraft has left Jomo Kenyatta International Airport since this morning at 6:00, according to a statement from the union. The strike is in full force.
In a statement, Kenya Airways expressed its apologies to the travellers and promised to make every effort to minimize the inconvenience, which could include rebooking them on different flights.
Before the strike, the corporation declared it unlawful, stating that it may lose at least 300 million shillings ($2.5 million) every day and jeopardise its ability to recover from the pandemic.
On the privately owned television channel NTV, Transport Minister Kipchumba Murkomen stated, “The pilots are throwing away the baby with the bath water.”
“Roughly 10,000 people have been impacted so far, and if things stay this way, the impact on the other sectors of the economy, such as tourism, would be severe,” the minister said, adding that more than two dozen flights had been cancelled.
Lawrence, a passenger who had been stuck at Nairobi’s airport since 5 a.m., said that he had been there to take a flight to Johannesburg, South Africa, but that “unfortunately they’ve just told me that it’s cancelled due to the strike.”
Other travellers told in the early hours of Saturday that the night before had been chaotic as people attempted to travel before the strike began. They said that hundreds of transit passengers were stuck in the airport as their connecting flights did not take off.
After a 14-day notice period had passed without the airline’s management resolving their complaints, the pilots union had threatened to call a strike over a dispute about pension contributions and the settlement of deferred pay for its members.