Holidaymakers stranded after Saharan dust clouds wreak havoc in Canary Islands

Telegraph reporters

British holidaymakers are stranded at airports in the Canary Islands after a Saharan sandstorm. Flights from Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma and North Tenerife Airports were cleared for take off early on Monday morning after hours of delays due to the weather conditions. Flights from South Tenerife remain grounded.

Passengers have posted photographs of people sitting on the floor waiting for more information.

Greg Horsman, 29, was on holiday with his girlfriend and his friends on a Tui cruise and was due to fly home to Manchester on Saturday evening.

However, they have been forced to stay in Gran Canaria for another two nights due to the storm.

Flights from Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarote and others airports have been postponed due to the storm - Andres Gutierrez/AP 

He told PA: "It's frustrating. We're just ready to be home.

"Last night we were in the airport for five hours and I was frustrated because Tui couldn't help us or do anything until the airport declared that they were closed which they did at 10.30pm.

"Tui reps did give us updates when we asked but unfortunately it didn't seem they were getting much information quickly.

"We then spent the night there, most of us in our original cabins, then came back to the airport at 12.30pm and have been here since.

Sandstorms have battered Tenerife, turning the air yellow - RAMON DE LA ROCHA/REX 

"We are being sent to a hotel tonight but we're not sure where we're going to yet."

He added: "We're frustrated because there should be contingency plans for when a weather event grounds flights.

"They all kept saying: 'Oh, we've never seen this happen before', which I understand, it's a freak of nature. But when weather grounds all flights there is surely a contingency plan that gets put into place so people can get accommodation sorted."

Graham Whiteman, 30, arrived at Las Palmas airport at 5pm on Saturday night, but discovered his Tui flight back to Doncaster - which he was due to be on with his fiancee and her family - had been cancelled.

Passengers stuck at Las Palmas in Gran Canaria - BORJA SUAREZ/REUTERS 

He said: "We were told we needed to check the boards for updates.

"We didn't get any and then at 1.30am we found a Tui rep, who then sorted us out with a hotel room on the other side of the island at 4am.

"We got an email at 7.58am saying a coach would be leaving the hotel at 8.30am to take us to the airport and we've been here ever since."

He added: "I am type 1 diabetic and when I explained to a Tui rep that I will not have enough insulin for the next 24 hours, their response was that they would deal with it when it becomes an emergency.

"The duty of care for their customers is a disgrace. They do not want to take responsibility for anything or anyone. Children and elderly adults having no option but to sit and sleep on the dirty airport floors.

The storm turned the sky above Tenerife orange - DESIREE MARTIN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

"We understand the weather conditions are not their fault but how they have catered for their customers is disgusting. It's basically a failure of Tui and their staff."

A spokeswoman for Tui 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."

Elsewhere, Britons have posted photographs of the orange sky on the islands as the wind continued to batter seaside towns.

Carnival visitors in Tenerife tried to make the most of it - Andres Gutierrez/AP

Michael Nixon, who is on holiday in Tenerife with his family to celebrate his 50th birthday and is due to fly home to Newcastle on Wednesday, said "pink dust" had covered his rented apartment balcony.

He said: "It's all a bit surreal. A heavy mist came in last night followed by very strong gusty winds during the night.

"This morning we awoke to yellowish haze and strong winds.

"We ventured out but it's difficult to see with all of the sand in the air.

"We are slightly concerned that our flight home on Wednesday could be affected.

Hundreds of people are stuck waiting for flight information - BORJA SUAREZ/REUTERS

"The sky is still yellow. It's around 29C (84F) but visibility is around 200m."

Meanwhile in the UK, flights out to the Canary Islands are being delayed or cancelled due to the sandstorm.

Tim Crew, 69, had booked a holiday to Lanzarote with his family after cancelling their previous holiday to Hong Kong and Thailand because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Their BA flight out of Gatwick Airport on Sunday has been cancelled and the family has been booked into a hotel.

He said: "It's one of those things really. If no one had talked to us and if there had been obvious problems and culpability, I'd probably be quite annoyed.

Firefighters tackle a blaze caused by the hot winds and dust on Tenerife - RAMON DE LA ROCHA/REX

"But everyone's done the right thing. The pilot came out a few times and told us in person and apologised, saying they had no more news at the moment and they were going to send us to a hotel.

"It's not great, it's not how I planned it, it's not what I want, but these things happen."

A spokeswoman 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."

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