On Saturday 13 October, hurricane Leslie reached the Iberic Peninsula, heavily disrupting air traffic at Porto airport. Due to the storm, six Ryanair aircraft were forced to divert to Malaga Airport. Around 800 passengers – and the crew members (read more below) – were forced to stay at the airport overnight.
On Sunday morning police officers were called to calm down many of the 800 stranded passengers, spending the night at Malaga airport “without information for five to six hours“. One of the passengers complained to Portuguese newspaper Jornal de Notícias: “If they knew there was a storm coming, we had better stayed at the airport of departure, now they are putting our safety at risk. Our flight should have landed in Porto at 23:30, we diverted to Faro and now we ended up in Malaga at 2:20. We were up until 7:30 in the morning without any information.”
Another passenger – traveling from Warsaw to Porto – complained: “It was chaotic, people slept on the floor or sat on benches.”
“It’s an unacceptable situation,” another passenger said, “we left Marseille to Porto already one hour late, then we diverted to Malaga airport. We didn’t get any information about our new departure time, we were not afforded a hotel and we didn’t have access to the dining area.”
Ryanair desk opens on chaotic Sunday morning
In the morning, when the Ryanair desk opened, hell broke loose: “It sounded like a riot, people were shouting and screaming. Some passengers tried to stop other Ryanair flights from leaving, it was a huge mess. Police was called to calm down the situation.”
Ryanair operated two direct flights to Porto, giving priority to pregnant women, families and elderly. The airline confirmed that a small number of flights diverted to Malaga, stating that meal vouchers and accommodations were provided. “Buses were arranged to transport our stranded customers to Porto, but to our regret there were not enough buses available.” By Sunday evening, Ryanair was able to bring all stranded passengers to Porto by adding extra flights.
Crew also spent the night at the airport
On Saturday night, Ryanair ops couldn’t immediately provide accommodation for the stranded crews as – according to Ryanair COO Peter Bellew – all hotels in Malaga were completely booked.
The crew – already at odds with their management – was forced to sleep on the crew room floor and decided to take a picture. Peter Bellew tweeted that the crew didn’t spend the entire night on that floor but was offered an access to the VIP lounge of Malaga airport: “The storm created huge damage in Portugal. Later after this the crew moved to VIP lounge. Apologies to the crew we could not find accommodation”.