Slow return of KQ flights as pilots' strike now enters day three

Passengers stranded at JKIA after Kenya Airways pilots went on strike. November 5, 2022. [David Gichuru, Standard]

Woes of passengers flying with Kenya Airways (KQ) continue as the national carrier battled to reschedule the stranded guests following a pilots’ strike that enters its third day today (Monday, November 7).

Not even the 24-hour ultimatum issued on Saturday and the threat of being sacked by Chief Executive Officer Allan Kilavuka could have the pilots back to the cockpit.

While scheduled regional and local flights are slowly resuming as per the airline’s notice, those flying overseas thronged the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport(JKIA) to find a solution to their delayed departures.

Among the stranded are passengers flying to United Arab Emirates(UAE) and the United States.

KQ operates direct flights to New York, in the US which is key for those who seek to connect to other states from Kenya.

A visit by The Standard to the JKIA, which is KQ’s hub of operation, was met with less than usual activities as dozens of passengers queued as others helplessly paced up and down pondering their next move.

Unlike Saturday when the strike started, most passengers at the airport had been contacted by KQ with a promise of either being booked on other flights or that their planned departure is back on.

However, some had not received any communication.

“We were supposed to fly to JFK (New York) yesterday, but that was cancelled. I reached out to KQ via WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail but no response. So, we are here, to talk to someone,” said one of the passengers.

Passengers stranded at JKIA. November 5, 2022. [David Gichuru, Standard]

At the Moi International Airport, some passengers said KQ had made arrangements for them to travel abroad as the national carrier’s flights were not available

Kassim Jahazi, who was to travel to the US via Nairobi, said he was forced to travel at around 2 pm after KQ employees told him that the flight he had booked to fly from Mombasa to Nairobi was not available.

Kassim told The Standard that his flight was to leave at 4 pm and was rescheduled to fly out of Mombasa at 2.55 pm so that he can connect with another flight to Nevada. “I was supposed to travel at 4.50 pm today but my flight was rescheduled to leave Moi International Airport earlier than I had planned. So as you see, I must travel at 2.55 pm today to connect with the flight to Doha today,” said Kassim.

The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa) in a statement yesterday said: “Kalpa is ready to call off this industrial action to allow Kenya Airways to resume full operations immediately. However, this is totally dependent on the management agreeing to resolve the issues raised by the pilots.”

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