Nairobi flights diverted to Tanzania as striking workers clash with police


A water cannon arrives at the JKIA on March 6, 2019. Photo/SHERLYNE PENDO
A water cannon arrives at the JKIA on March 6, 2019. Photo/SHERLYNE PENDO

Nairobi flights that were scheduled to land at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) have been diverted to Mombasa and others to as far as Tanzania.

This follows the strike by Kenya Aviation Workers Union (KAWU) that has halted operations at the airport leaving thousands of passengers stranded since midnight.

“We advise all passengers using JKIA to get in touch with their respective airlines to confirm their travel arrangements,” the Kenya Airports Authority said in a statement.

Some of the passengers took to social media to lament over their disrupted flights even as KAA sought to assure its clients that it would restore normalcy.

“I was to have morning flight to Oslo from JKIA this morning , now heading to Tanzania….,” one Jacob Abere Matlala said.

“This is an International Airport, We are showing a very bad picture and other Airports are benefiting from this, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania. What the police are doing it’s even worse,” said Sam, another Twitter user.

Police and General Service Unit (GSU) officers engaged the striking workers in running battles lobbing teargas canisters at the crowd.

The workers union secretary general Moses Ndiema has since been arrested.

A water cannon was seen arriving at the airport even as public vehicles were prevented from accessing the area.

Long queues and passengers seated on the floor outside the terminals characterised scenes at the airport.

The national carrier Kenya Airways later issued a statement indicating that there would be flight delays and disruptions.

“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,” the KQ statement reads.

However, British Airways said they were not aware of any disruptions at the JKIA.

“Hey, Sara. We’re not aware of any strike action in Nairobi. As far as we’re concerned your flight will be operating as normal. Neil,” the airline said in response to a passenger who had inquired about her scheduled flight.

 

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