NAIROBI, March 6 (Xinhua) -- Flights to and from Kenya's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) were disrupted on Wednesday as aviation workers began strike over management row.
The workers under Kenya Aviation Workers Union (KAWU) are opposed to the planned handover of the airport operations from Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) to Kenya Airways (KQ), arguing such plans will render most of them jobless and want the plan to be discarded.
Passengers said no plane can take off or land at JKIA as fire engines on the airside have been withdrawn.
"All flights are grounded. Boarding - passes issuance area, security screening area and waiting area are all empty with hundreds of passengers still stranded outside," an airport worker said.
The worker who declined to be named said the strike took many by surprise and has led to a crisis at this normally busy airport. Most flights have not taken off since 3 a.m. local time (0000GMT).
At least ten flights have been affected by the strike with a Rwanda Air plane that was supposed to pick up passengers were leaving the airport empty. Passengers have been asked to speak to their airlines.
KQ on Wednesday confirmed flight disruptions, urging passengers on flights after 11 a.m. local time (0800GMT) not to come to the airport until further communication is shared.
On Tuesday, KQ which is part-owned by the Kenyan government had assured travelers that flights would not be disrupted.
KAA posted a similar statement, saying "we wish to assure the general public of normal operations at all our Airplanes."
The union members which include cabin crew, ground staff, security, air traffic controllers and maintenance staff, has questioned the proposed merger, which is under scrutiny by Parliament.
The union was demanding the removal of KAA top management and their KQ counterparts.