Canary Islands sandstorm: Passengers 'had to sleep in airport'

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People sleeping in an airportImage source, Greg Horsman
Image caption,
Passengers had to spend a night sleeping in the airport after their flight was cancelled

Passengers stranded in Gran Canaria after a sandstorm were forced to sleep at the airport when their flight was cancelled, one traveller has said.

Greg Horsman, from Llangefni, Anglesey, said travel company TUI did not tell passengers their flight to Manchester was cancelled until late on Monday.

Mr Horsman was supposed to fly home on Saturday, but has been stuck on Gran Canaria for three extra nights.

TUI apologised and said it is working "tirelessly" to get people home.

Flights were cancelled from the Canary Islands on Saturday after a huge sandstorm in the Sahara Desert.

Media caption,

A vast sandstorm has engulfed the Canary Islands

Mr Horsman said a flight was advertised to leave the airport at 18:00 GMT on Monday, but despite this being pushed back to 21:45, no plane appeared.

But with no further information about the delay, some passengers had to travel to a different part of the airport to find British reps from TUI, who told them the flight was cancelled.

"We asked what was going on and they said 'the flight's being cancelled because the pilot's gone over his hours'," he said.

"This happened at about 22:10. At the same point they said there's no accommodation left on the island. It's just absolutely awful."

He added passengers have been given different reasons by TUI for the cancellations, ranging from a weather issue to a technical issue.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Strong winds blew a cloud of sand from the Sahara desert to the Canary Islands over the weekend

TUI said: "We would like to sincerely apologise to our customers whose flights were disrupted by adverse and changeable weather conditions in the Canary Islands over the past few days.

"The safety of our customers and crew is always our highest priority and we're working tirelessly to get everyone to their destination as quickly as possible.

"We've done everything we can to avoid any further delays, however we need to ensure our crew have taken their legal minimum rest in order to operate flights home."

It added that all flights scheduled to depart from the Canary Islands today will be operating as planned.