Despite Kenya Airports Authority declaring the strike illegal, all flights were grounded at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) as Kenya Aviation Workers Union(KAWU) members downed their tool on Wednesday morning.
Passes issuance, security screening and waiting areas remained deserted with hundreds of passengers stranded outside. Worse off, fire engines on the airside were withdrawn making it impossible for a plane to land or take off.
The protracted tussle with their employer over a merger plan dubbed Project Simba has remained the thorny issue. The latest developments in the standoff among the key stakeholders is revealing a darker side of the potential merger.
A press statement by KAWU secretary general Moss Ndiema, points out a number of details that make the union convinced, that Project Simba is scandalous and will automatically plunge into losses as well as rendering its members redundant.
"Corrupt procurement arrangement poor decision making and open looting by cartels want to extend their insatiable appetite to KAA at the expense of all Kenyans" read part of the statement.
The union is now demanding the removal of the Kenya Airways CEO Sebastian Mikosz, alleging that he is incompetent and unfit to lead the organization towards financial recovery.
After months of global search for KQ CEO, by an international firm Spencer Stuart, Sebastian was appointed on May 2017.
His appointment was among the key steps taken to help the national carrier out of financial woes, that had affected the majority of its key operations.
Despite carrying a number of austerity measures to salvage the situation at the group, KQ has continued to make losses running into billions of shillings. During the last year's half results the Group made Sh4 billion loss.
KAWU accused Sebastian, of orchestrating losses in spite of being appointed to turn around the fortunes of the ailing national carrier.
Sebastian who is said to be earning Sh8 million has been accused by the union of mismanagement, by allowing hefty packages to his group of managers and consultants, who are said to be pocketing a jaw-dropping 1.3 billion as salaries in the last 18 months.
His 21 team of consultants and managers pocket Shs71.5 million a month with the least paid manager earning more than a cabinet secretary. Other key personnel earning big include the board chair Michael Jackson who pockets Shs3 million a month, while majority earn above Shs2.8 million a month.
According to KAWU, this is clear sign of poor management, considering the immediate CEO Mbuvi Ngunze earned Shs3.5 million.
"KQ has lost close to Sh1.3 billion in the last 18 months since Sebastian took over. This can only be called theft" said Moses Ndiema in a press statement.
Sebastian told Parliament that the plan was not a merger but a partnership deal, KAWU remained adamant and opposed the move due to the huge financial crisis that threatens KQ's future.
Citing the carrier's weak financial strength, the National Assembly raised its reservation on the viability of Project Simba plan.
On February 2019 members of the Public Investments Committee (PIC), suspended the plan and ordered a forensic audit into the proposed deal. During the session, PIC ordered a stop into further negotiations between the airline and Kenya Airports Authority.