Hundreds of travellers were stranded at Nairobi’s international
airport as a strike prompted by a labour dispute grounded
flights and riot police deployed to disperse striking workers.
With flights grounded since midnight on Tuesday, passengers
were advised on Wednesday morning not to come to the
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport – East Africa’s busiest
according to the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) – until further
“Kenya Airways regrettably wishes to inform its customers
and the general public that due to the illegal strike by Kenya
Aviation Workers Union (KUWA), the airline will be
experiencing disruptions in normal flight operations,” a
company statement said.
Inside the terminals, strikers faced off with police who fired
teargas as they moved in to arrest union officials they
accused of inciting workers.
Chaos at Nairobi airport! A strike by security staff has left
hundreds of passengers stranded outside and the numbers
are growing every minute. Not clear any of us will make our
— Chris Trott (@ChrisTrott) March 6, 2019
Passengers waiting for flights, some for hours, were asked to
leave the airport but they gathered in parking and waiting
areas outside the building. “I have been here since 3:00 am.
There is no flight, there is no information, we have just been
told to wait for communication,” stranded passenger Mercy
Mwai told AFP news agency. Another passenger, Christine,
asked “why are police using unnecessary force with teargas at
an airport”. Some passengers received medical treatment
on-site for tear gas inhalation, according to an AFP journalist
at the airport. The workers, who had not announced their
labour action beforehand, are angry about the planned
takeover by Kenya Airways of the airport operated by the
Transport Minister James Macharia said workers need not
“What they were fearing is that the proposed merger between
KQ [the airlines] and KAA will result in job losses but we
gave assurances that that will not happen,” he told journalists
at the airport, and promised that flights will resume shortly.
“So this [strike] is completely uncalled for because the deal
has not happened.”
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