Chaos at Lanzarote Airport


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"Visibility is very low, practically nothing can be seen," air traffic controllers reported this Sunday around eleven at night. Low visibility made it necessary to cancel, recalculate and delay the flights leaving for Lanzarote . In some cases, the planes landed at the César Manrique Airport two hours late. Others, however, had to be diverted and their passengers have still not been able to reach the island.

The cloudiness had forced from the beginning of the afternoon to divert the routes with destination Lanzarote to Fuerteventura or Gran Canaria. The last trips of the night turned into chaos and some of the people affected were seen sleeping at ground level in the airport of the capital island.

One of the Iberia Express planes that was traveling from Madrid to Lanzarote left its passengers in Gran Canaria and the travelers denounced the lack of solutions and information. Mercedes López is one of the mothers of the children of the Arrecife Penguins Swimming Club . This weekend the team was in Oviedo (Asturias), competing in the Junior and Children's Winter Championship of Artistic Swimming in Spain. His return was scheduled for this Sunday, on a flight with a stopover in Madrid, but they were diverted to Gran Canaria.

In total, 33 people, including 23 children between the ages of eight and thirteen, ended up spending the night on the neighboring island. In the midst of the lack of control, the team went to a hotel in the capital, bearing the cost of travel and without knowing whether or not they will have to pay for the hotel. There were no buses at midnight and they had to pay a total of nine taxis to get to the capital.

Given the lack of availability to fly to Lanzarote this Monday, Mercedes finds relocation very difficult . At the moment they have no information about it and they are considering taking a boat to return home. "The children are fine because they take it as another day of vacation, but some of the parents who are on the island waiting for them are overwhelmed by uncertainty," says this mother.

"My parents are 80 years old, have blood pressure and sugar problems," says another of the passengers on one of the Iberia Express flights that departed from Madrid, but never reached Lanzarote. The parents of this passenger flew with the right pills, the airport pharmacy does not administer them and the Aena emergency doctor does not prescribe prescription medication.

In addition, her eight-year-old son has slept on the floor. The flight had to arrive at Lanzarote at eleven o'clock at night. "Aena provided us minors and the elderly with a blanket, not Iberia Express," this passenger reproaches the company's neglect.

Last night's photograph was a nightmare for many passengers . Those who managed to gain a foothold slept on a chair and most on the floor. She is not the only one who denounces the lack of information from Iberia Express. The professor of Tourism at the University of Las Palmas, Pedro Hernández Camacho , was traveling with 27 students back home. The students had spent the week at the Berlin International Tourism Fair (FIT) .

His flight was scheduled to land in Lanzarote. However, the afternoon turned into a bewilderment. "The most serious thing is that a ticket is a contract," defends the professor. Hernández insists on the lack of truthful information from the company, the contradictions of its operators and the inability to solve the problems that arose. To top it off, passengers don't know where their bags are because they weren't returned to them when they disembarked from the plane.

"We were not going to have accommodation and they give us a voucher so that we could eat something at the Burger King at the airport because it was the only thing that was open," says Pedro. Faced with the refusal to provide them with a space to sleep, he queued up at the Iberia Express counter until almost two in the morning, at which time some passengers were transferred to accommodation in the south of the island. Others went to relatives' houses, chose to pay out of pocket for a hotel or waited in the terminal.

A couple was traveling with their two children, ages eight and fourteen. "At about five in the morning they wake me up and tell me that I have to go because the important people from Aena are coming," says a passenger. He had slept with his children in the seats of an airport cafeteria, in the absence of the company providing him with an alternative to spend the night. They still do not know when they will be able to return to the island: "It is one in the afternoon, they have been laughing at us every 15 or 20 minutes telling us that we were going out and they still do not know it," he laments.

This Monday morning the program Good morning, Lanzarote on Radio Lanzarote could not be broadcast. Among the bustle of the flights that failed to land on the island, was its presenter Techy Acosta. "They did not tell us what the reasons are," criticizes another passenger. The battle to return home continues for these travelers still stuck at the Gran Canaria Airport. "Now they have scheduled a flight for two in the afternoon," says one of those affected.