HUNDREDS of British tourists have been left stranded abroad following the Saharan desert sand cloud which has engulfed the Canary Islands.
What is the latest travel advice and are flights grounded?
The dust cloud left hundreds of flights to and from the Canary Islands grounded over the weekend, although flights are beginning to operate again this morning.
AENA, who manage the airports across Spain, issued a statement saying all airports were operating with “reduced capacity”.
They added: “Check with the airline the status of your flight, because it can still be affected.”
Passengers travelling with airlines including easyJet and Ryanair are advised to check their flight before heading to the airport.
Ryanair advise: “Ryanair regrets to advise flights in and out of Gran Canaria, Tenerife South and Lanzarote have been suspended after storms of red sand from Africa’s Saharan desert struck the Canary Islands.
“Gusts of up to 40 knots (46 mph) are likely to disrupt flight operations in the Canaries until Monday 24 February resulting in further disruptions and cancellations.”
“Passengers are advised to verify the status of their flights before going to the airport.
“Rescue flights are being planned to accommodate disrupted customers when visibility improves. Ryanair is currently establishing hotel availability which is limited.”
EasyJet has been responding to passengers on social media, saying: “Due to sandstorms in the Canary Islands, resulting in the closure of Las Palmas airport Saturday evening, like all airlines we experienced some disruption to our flying programme. We are doing everything possible to minimise the impact of the disruption for our customers.
“Those due to travel on cancelled flights have been given the option of transferring their flight free of charge or receiving a refund.”
Flights were grounded due to the the low visibility caused by the orange sandstorm, as well as high winds of 75mph.
The UK government has not updated the travel advice for British travellers heading to the islands.
What are your rights if your flight is cancelled due to weather?
If your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to an alternative flight or a full refund.
If you opt for an alternative flight it’s up to you whether to fly as soon as possible after the cancelled flight or at a later date.
If you opt for a later flight, you are also entitled to care and assistance.
This usually means food, drink, access to communication – for example this could be by refunding the reasonable cost of phone calls – and accommodation if you have to stay overnight.
Your airline may give you a voucher for this in the airport.
If you’re unable to contact your airline, you may need to pay for accommodation yourself, you can claim the cash later, just make sure you keep the receipts.
However, you are not able to claim additional compensation if the cause of the delay or cancellation is bad weather, as this is seen as extraordinary circumstances.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled earlier this month due to Storm Dennis, with 50,000 passengers affected.
Storm Ciara left passengers “throwing up” due to extreme turbulence as well.
Here is how to claim compensation if your flight is delayed or cancelled.