A photo has emerged of a group of Ryanair cabin crew allegdly being forced to sleep on the floor of the airline’s crew report room in Malaga, Spain after an Autumn storm temporarily grounded flights. The six members of cabin crew are seen trying to sleep on the hard floor of a room which is clearly not an appropriate place to rest with no bedding and no access to an overnight kit.
The incident is said to have taken place in the last few weeks after high winds and torrential rain soaked most of Europe. The photo was first leaked on Twitter by Jim Atkinson who tagged Ryanair’s chief operations officer, Peter Bellow.
In response, Bellow seemingly confirmed the airline had forced its crew to sleep on a hard floor, claiming there weren’t any hotels available in the area: “All hotels were completely booked out in Malaga,” Bellow’s Tweet read.
“The storm created huge damage in Portugal. Later after this (the photo being taken) the crew moved to VIP lounge. Apologies to the crew we could not find accommodation.”
While it’s unclear what Bellow meant by a “VIP lounge”, our sources at the airline categorically deny that the crew involved in this incident were ever moved to a more comfortable environment.
Unfortunately. All hotels were completely booked out in Malaga. The storm created huge damage in Portugal. Later after this the crew moved to VIP lounge. Apologies to the crew we could not find accommodation.
— Peter Bellew (@peterbellew) October 14, 2018
Ryanair cabin crew aren’t routinely rostered overnight stay’s, so any disruption would create significant issues for the airline to manage. In an emailed response, Ryanair said the photo was “clearly staged,” going on to explain:
“No crew “slept on the floor”. Due to storms in Porto (13 Oct) a number of flights diverted to Malaga and as this was a Spanish national holiday, hotels were fully booked.”
“The crew spent a short period of time in the crew room before being moved to a VIP lounge, and returned to Porto the next day (none of the crew operated flights).”
Users on Twitter have branded the incident “disgusting” and “shameful”. Others have suggested they’ll refuse to fly with Ryanair over concerns about the way the airline treats its staff.
This incident will surely raise fresh concerns about the way cabin crew at the ultra-low-cost airline are treated. In the last few weeks, crew in six countries – including Portugal – staged a 24-hour strike over a long-running and bitter dispute concerning pay, conditions and working conditions at Ryanair.
Last week, Portugal’s SNPVAC union sent out new proposals for employment contracts which are based on local laws and regulations – a major sticking point in negotiations up to this point.
Ryanair recently issued a rare profits warning – citing in part the cost of strike action and lower than expected forward bookings. Nonetheless, the Dublin-based airline is expected to make a profit in the region of €1.10 billion to €1.20billion – with profits like that, one has to wonder whether the airline could afford to pay for hotel accommodation for its cabin crew?
This article has been updated to include a comment from Ryanair.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.