Thousands stranded as Kenyan pilots strike

STORY: They've got their luggage, but no planes to board.

More than two dozen flights were canceled and thousands of passengers left stranded on Saturday (November 5) as pilots at Kenya Airways began a strike.

It's one of Africa's biggest carriers; the government had urged the strike be called off.

At Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport - one of the continent's most important aviation hubs - passenger Lawrence Ndibo has just learned that his flight, for a business meeting, has been canceled.

"They told me not to worry, you just come in as per scheduled time. I had even done an online check-in, but then I come here, you know, and they give me this notice over here."

The Kenya Airline Pilots Association said Kenya Airways' management had declined to listen to their proposals on how to resolve grievances over pensions and pay.

Transport Minister Kipchumba Murkomen accused the pilots of "throwing away the baby with the bath water".

Speaking on NTV on Saturday morning he said around 10,000 passengers had been affected so for.

If the situation continues, he added, the impact on sectors of the economy such as tourism would be "severe".

In a statement Kenya Airways apologized to passengers.

It said it would do its best to minimize the inconvenience, including rebookings onto alternative flights.

Before the action, the airline had called the planned strike "unlawful "and warned it could jeopardize its recovery from the global health crisis.

Kenya Airways has said it could lose 300 million shillings, or around $2.5 million, per day.