Ryanair has sacked the six cabin crew who staged a photo of themselves sleeping on the floor at Malaga Airport last month.
The airline employees from Porto were stranded in Spain on 13 October by Storm Leslie in Portugal. The image of them sleeping on the floor quickly went viral, with many citing it as proof of the budget airline’s less than exemplary treatment of its staff.
However, soon afterwards Ryanair released footage proving that the picture was set up.
The budget airline told The Independent in a statement that all six cabin crew members in Porto were dismissed on Monday for “breach of contract on grounds of gross misconduct” after staging the photograph, which supported “a false claim (widely reported in international media outlets) that they were ‘forced to sleep on the floor’ of the Malaga crew room”.
The behaviour “damaged their employer’s reputation and caused an irreparable breach of trust with these six persons”, Ryanair added.
At the time, Ryanair said in a statement that the image was “clearly staged”, and no crew “slept on the floor”.
“Due to storms in Porto a number of flights diverted to Malaga and as this was a Spanish national holiday, hotels were fully booked,” the airline said.
Luciana Passo, head of Portugal’s SNPVAC cabin crew union, told The Sun: “Ryanair thinks it was harmed by the publication of that photograph when it was no more than a show of the crew members’ justified feeling of indignation.”
Although the 24 stranded crew members were transferred to a lounge, they were allegedly not provided with food or drink by the airline during this time and were forced to share eight chairs to try to get some sleep, claimed Portuguese union official Fernando Gandra, a former Ryanair cabin crew member himself.
“I’m not going to comment on whether it was staged or not,” he told the Irish Times at the time.
“Only the people who were there can make that statement.
“The only place they had available was the floor… The point is that Ryanair did not give their crews any place to rest.”
SNPVAC corroborated these claims, saying in a statement: “The 24 crew members were there from 1.30am until 6am (local time) without access to food, drinks and even a place to sit down, as there were only eight seats available for the 24 crew.”