Kenyan pilot strike disrupts air travel on three continents – Journal | Tech US News

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NAIROBI: A strike by Kenya Airways pilots forced the cancellation of nearly two dozen flights on Saturday, affecting thousands of passengers, the national carrier said.

The airline, part-owned by the government and Air France-KLM, is one of the largest in Africa, connecting several countries to Europe and Asia, but faces turbulent times, including years of losses.

The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) said no Kenya Airways flight of its members departed from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as of 6am on Saturday.

The pilots announced the strike in defiance of a court order against industrial action and gave no indication of how long it would last.

The airline’s managing director and chief executive, Allan Kilavuka, said 23 flights were canceled as of 11am due to “the illegal strike”.

Pilots demand provident fund, salary payment; the airline warns of strict action

He urged the protesting pilots, who make up 10 percent of the workforce, to return to work at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. “Failure to do so will result in immediate disciplinary action,” he warned.

The Kenya Aviation Workers Union (KAWU) later announced that ground staff would also go on strike from 2pm in a separate and long-running dispute with the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) over wage increases.

“Negotiate in good faith”

Kenya’s newly appointed Transport Minister Kipchumba Murkomen told reporters the strike was unjustified and “akin to economic sabotage”.

He said around 10,000 passengers were affected by the strike.

“I’m not saying their concerns aren’t valid,” he said, appealing to the “good will of the pilots to put an end” to what he called drastic action.

Frustrated passengers described huge queues at the airport, with many only realizing their flights had been canceled when they arrived to check-in.

“They didn’t tell us anything,” American tourist Jill Lee told AFP as she waited in line after her flight to Tanzania’s financial capital, Dar es Salaam, was canceled at the last minute.

The 65-year-old was booked on a safari but said he had no idea where he would spend the night after his connecting flight from Nairobi was cancelled.

“A lot of people here have nowhere to go. It’s pretty awful.” On Saturday, KALPA blamed “the tough stance taken by” the airline’s management for causing thousands of travelers’ plans to get confused.

He urged them to “come to the table and negotiate in good faith, if they really sympathize with the plight of Kenya Airways passengers”.

commandment

The pilots are pressing for the restoration of contributions to a provident fund and the payment of all wages stopped during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Monday, the airline won a court order to stop the strike, but an official at KALPA, which has 400 members, told AFP the pilots “were acting within the law” and had not yet been served with a court order. . .

Posted in Dawn, November 6, 2022

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