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Flights cancelled to and from the Canary Islands amidst sandstorm chaos

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Europe doesn’t usually experience sandstorms but last week many of us who took a trip to the Canary Islands, or who had planned a getaway to one of the most popular European holiday destinations, were affected by the rare natural spectacle. Thousands of passengers travelling between the UK and the Canary Islands, especially at the time of the half-term holiday, have been forced to face delays and cancellations as the sandstorm turns the Canarian skies yellow and limits flying possibilities.

Where did the sandstorm come from?

The sandstorm that has hung over the islands off the North African coast like a veil came all the way from the Sahara Desert and was swept across the African continent by winds typical for this time of year. Destinations affected by disruption may include Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, North and South Tenerife.

Why were flights cancelled and delayed?

Flights to and around the Canary Islands are disrupted as a sandstorm hits

Sandstorms, similarly to fog and heavy rain, may limit visibility for pilots and air traffic control. In addition to this, strong winds that were brought by the Saharan sandstorm could have posed a threat to passenger, crew and flight safety.

Travellers took it to Twitter to voice their frustrations

Travellers scheduled to start their holiday or to depart the islands in time for the end to half-term were left disappointed and frustrated. Some of them took to Twitter to voice their discontent:

Can one claim compensation if your flight is disrupted by a sandstorm?

Unfortunately, sandstorms are classed as ‘adverse weather conditions’ which count as an ‘extraordinary circumstance’. Extraordinary circumstances imply that airlines cannot always be held accountable, for instance when a situation is beyond their control. These are particular situations, for example, adverse weather conditions or strikes, that the airline could not have anticipated. Because of that, carriers can’t be held liable for having to delay or cancel their flight as a consequence of such an event, since these are out of their direct control and influence.

If you wish to know more about extraordinary circumstances and what in detail then entail, then click here.

You are entitled to more than just care

Regardless of the fact that you are not entitled to compensation for your by the sandstorm disrupted flight, you are still entitled to appropriate passenger assistance and care from the airline. In specific, you are entitled to refreshments and meals as well as two different means of communications which could include calls, emails etc. If you are faced with a delay or cancellation that requires you to stay overnight, then you are entitled to hotel accommodation as well as the transport to and from the hotel.

Can you claim a refund for your flight if it is disrupted by a sandstorm?

In case your flight is delayed by 5 hours or more you are entitled to a full refund for your flight. You can enforce this right if you decide that you do not wish to travel on your originally booked flight. However, it is important to understand that if you disregard your originally booked flight, which you decide to not take, then you also automatically step back from your rights to receive care and assistance from the airline. If your flight is cancelled, the airline has to offer a replacement flight that suits you or refund you if this is not possible.

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