AP NEWS

Kenya flights disrupted by airport workers strike

March 6, 2019
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Stranded passengers wait for their delayed flights out of JKIA airport in Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday, March 6, 2019. Some hundreds of air passengers were stranded Wednesday in Kenya because of a strike at Nairobi's international airport by the Kenya Aviation Workers Union.(AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Hundreds of air passengers were stranded Wednesday in Kenya because of a strike at Nairobi’s international airport by the Kenya Aviation Workers Union.

Police violently dispersed striking workers who attempted to protest at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

The labor court suspended the strike until a petition by a local airline opposing the strike is heard Thursday.

James Kariuki, the transport minister, said the strike was illegal because the government got court orders Tuesday barring the union from proceeding with it.

Kenya’s military took over screening and security services at the airport following the strike.

The union said in a statement that the strike was over the proposed takeover of the Kenya Airport Authority, that runs airports, by the country’s loss-making airline, Kenya Airways. It demanded the removal of the top management of Kenya Airways and the Kenya Airport Authority.

Kenya Airports Authority said flight operations at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport are steadily normalizing.

“All scheduled arrivals have been processed and the backlog of departures arising from this morning’s disruptions has been substantively cleared,” said a statement from the authority.

Kenya Airways Managing Director Sebastian Mikosz said 24 flights had been delayed and two flights had been diverted elsewhere because of the strike.

“The so called morning wave (of flights) was disrupted,” he said. He said international flights will be delayed but would take off. He said the logistical challenge had been to check in passengers and screen them properly.

“The process is slow but improving every minute,” he said.

Wyne Winters an American national stranded at the airport said it was ” a little bit frustrating”.

″ I wish the airport officials would come out and give us more information about how long we are going to wait or where we should wait. Because right now it is everybody pushing past everybody else,”

Kenya’s parliamentary Public Investment Committee is investigating the deal which the government claims is necessary to reduce the loss of market share to competitors such as Ethiopian Airlines.