Six members of a cabin crew for Irish budget airline Ryanair have been sacked after posting a widely-circulated “protest photo” of them lying side by side on the floor of a Spanish airport.
The six cabin staff were pictured sleeping on the floor of Costa del Sol’s Malaga Airport in southern Spain after four Ryanair passenger planes were diverted from Portugal due to the impact of Storm Leslie.
The group of workers claimed in the viral photo posted to Twitter on October 14 that they had been forced into “sleeping on the floor” of the crew room in the airport after becoming “stranded in Malaga” due to the storms.
However security footage later released by Ryanair showed the flight crew sitting on chairs in the room before getting into position on the floor for the photo. After the photo was taken, they can be seen getting up and walking away.
This is a Ryanair 737 crew based in Portugal, stranded in Malaga, Spain a couple of nights ago due to storms. They are sleeping on the floor of the Ryanair crew room. RYR is earning €1.25 billion this year but will not put stranded crews in a hotel for the night. @peterbellew ? pic.twitter.com/lILWZVqqGj
— Jim Atkinson (@Jimbaba) October 14, 2018
Ryanair ruled that the group’s claim which had been widely reported in international media outlets “damaged their employer’s reputation and caused an irreparable breach of trust”.
All six staff were dismissed from their jobs on Monday “for breach of contract on grounds of gross misconduct,” Ryanair said in a statement on Wednesday.
Portuguese trade union SNPVAC, which represents the staff, said the photograph was “a gesture of protest” against the conditions they endured after they were stranded in Spain by a storm.
It alleged Ryanair staff were not given hotel rooms and were left “without the minimum legal requirements for suitable accommodation,” with inadequate access to food and drink, and enough seating for only one-third of them, the union said.
It said Ryanair’s claim that the viral photograph was staged was itself “fake news.”
Ryanair says the staff were moved to a VIP lounge after spending only a short period of time in the crew room.
UK media reports say the staff were forced to spend at least five hours in the room, which had seating for just three people.