Sandstorm disrupts Irish flights to the Canary Islands

Airports start to reopen in Monday after significant numbers of flights were cancelled

Passengers queuing at Tenerife South airport on Sunday. Photograph: PA

Passengers queuing at Tenerife South airport on Sunday. Photograph: PA


Irish holiday-makers travelling to or from the Canary Islands in the coming days have been advised to check their flight status due to a Saharan sandstorm that resulted in mass flight cancellations.

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) said on Sunday a significant number of Aer Lingus and Ryanair flights have been cancelled, due to the North African sandstorm.

Storm Calima reduced visibility to zero at times at the weekend preventing aircraft from leaving major airports on the islands.

On Monday all but one of the Canary Islands’ airports had reopened and flights from Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma and North Tenerife Airports will be able to take off, according a statement from airport operator Aena.

Flights departing South Tenerife continue to be grounded, the statement added.

John Spollen, ITAA president said last night the flight cancellations were causing major disruption to Irish holiday makers “on what is a busy travel period with the school mid term break coming to a close”.

“Irish holidaymakers will be faced with the possibility of incurred additional accommodation costs. We have been assured that these costs will be covered by the airlines, within reason, and are advising all customers to claim under EU261.”

All intending passengers should check with their travel agent, or with airlines for the status of their flight before travelling to the airport, he said.

“We have been advised that this weather disruption should not continue for more than a day or so. However, there will be a backlog to flying holiday makers back home.”

One call centre worker said: “People should contact their airline company to try and get accommodation for the night if their flight has been cancelled.”

Passengers have posted photographs of people sitting on the floor waiting for more information. Greg Horsman (29) was on holiday with his girlfriend and his friends and was due to fly home to Manchester on Saturday evening.

However, they were forced to stay in Gran Canaria for another two nights due to the storm.

“It’s frustrating. We’re just ready to be home. Last night we were in the airport for five hours and I was frustrated because TUI couldn’t help us or do anything until the airport declared that they were closed which they did at 10.30pm,” he said.

“TUI reps did give us updates when we asked but unfortunately it didn’t seem they were getting much information quickly. We then spent the night there, most of us in our original cabins, then came back to the airport at 12.30pm and have been here since. We are being sent to a hotel tonight but we’re not sure where we’re going to yet.” - PA