Canaries travel chaos as sandstorm grounds hundreds of flights

Airlines are struggling to resume services after a Saharan sandstorm grounded hundreds of flights across the Canary Islands.

Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, North and South Tenerife airports were affected due to the weather conditions, coinciding with the end of the February school half-term with thousands of holidaymakers looking to fly home.

More than 820 flights were affected on Sunday alone, stranding passengers in airport terminals.

Spanish airports operator Aena cancelled, suspended or diverted all flights to and from the islands, citing low visibility.

MoreItalian strike triggers flight disruption warning

Flights out to the Canary Islands from the UK were also being delayed or cancelled due to the sandstorm.

Aena said operations had resumed at all airports on Sunday night, except Tenerife South.

But Jet2 warned that no flights would operate from the islands today (Monday) and advised passengers not to travel to airports on Tuesday and Wednesday until flight times have been confirmed.

People still on the islands have been advised to stay indoors and keep windows and doors closed, with winds up to 75mph forecast to continue hitting the archipelago until Monday.

Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote will be the worst hit, according to Spain’s national weather service.

Airlines have scheduled extra flights in an attempt to get people home but they are subject to airports being operational and slots being available.

Jet2 said last night: “ and Jet2holidays continue to monitor the situation in the Canary Islands.

“Our operations team are working hard to ensure all flights operate, however, we are experiencing large delays to all flights.

“Whilst we are still confirming all new schedules for our flights we can confirm that no flights will operate to the Canaries on Monday 24th February 2020.

“Our confirmed new schedules will be published here no later than 12 noon on the 24th.

“If you are due to travel on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday please do not proceed to the airport until your confirmed flight times have been displayed here. We thank you for you understanding at this time.”

A Tui spokesperson said: “We would like to sincerely apologise to customers for the disruption caused by the adverse and changeable weather conditions in the Canary Islands on Saturday February 22 and Sunday February 23.

“The safety of our customers and crew is always our highest priority and we are working tirelessly to find the best solutions for all our customers.

“Everyone is being provided with food and drinks as well as being supported by our Tui reps. We are very sorry for the inconvenience this is causing and would like to thank our customers for their co-operation and patience.”

A spokesperson for British Airways said: “We’ve been looking after our customers and have offered hotel accommodation and meal vouchers to those who were due to travel on the flight to Tenerife that has been delayed by the sandstorm.

“We’re staying in regular contact with our customers and we look forward to getting them on their way tomorrow.”

The airline added that is planned to operate a normal schedule today.

Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “Passengers affected by the flight cancellations to and from the Canary Islands should have the right to food, refreshments and crucially, overnight accommodation for long delays.

“It’s unacceptable if those travelling – including many families with small children returning after half-term – are being told to sleep in terminal buildings when airlines know that they have a duty of care.

“If a flight is cancelled or delayed by more than five hours you should also be offered an alternative flight to your destination or a full refund if you decide you no longer want to travel.”

Share article

View Comments

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.