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Passengers left frustrated as SAA strike grounds operations

It's been quite a desperate situation at OR Tambo International Airport for many travellers, some of whom had no back-up plans.

Passengers hoping to make alternative travel arrangements at the SAA counters at OR Tambo International Airport on 15 November 2019 after finding their flights cancelled by a strike. Picture: Sifiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Passengers who've been affected by the SAA strike have spoken of their frustration.

Some of them were turned back at check-in counters at OR Tambo International Airport and forced to make alternative plans.

The effects of Friday morning's strike at SAA are being felt across the country, with thousands of workers bringing the airline's operations to a halt.

The mass protest is expected to cost upwards of R50 million a day, with more than 100 flights cancelled.

Members of trade unions Numsa and Satawu have also joined in the strike.

They're striking after rejecting a 5.9% pay increase offer from the national airline - they want 8%.

The labour groups are also angry at the possible retrenchments of more than 900 workers as part of SAA's turnaround strategy.

It's been quite a desperate situation at the airport for many travellers, some of whom had no back-up plans.

One couple was meant to be flying out to Mauritius.

"We've been to the counter and they've changed the flight for us to tomorrow with Mauritius Air," one of the travellers said.

"We'd have gone this morning but now we lose two days, so of course this is not very nice," the other traveller said.

One student, who was due to travel to Ethiopia, said her flight has been rescheduled to Monday.

"I was booked with SAA and it was [an] early [flight] but when I got here they told me that we are not going. They're telling me that I can't book with another airline."

Apart from SAA's severely limited operations, other airlines are continuing to operate normally.