Storm Hermine: How are travellers stranded in the Canary Islands getting home?

Spain's Canary Island has been battered by tropical depression Hermine
Spain's Canary Island has been battered by tropical depression Hermine   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022   -  
By Charlotte Elton

More than 600 flights to and from the Canary Islands were cancelled over the weekend as Storm Hermine battered the Atlantic archipelago.

Hermine was expected to hit the popular holiday destination over the weekend as a tropical storm but was downgraded to a tropical depression on Sunday.

After three days of torrential rain and flooding, the extreme weather has finally calmed down.

But a number of travellers remain on the islands, with some airlines organising ‘rescue flights’ to address the backlog of cancelled trips.

Why were flights to the Canary Islands cancelled?

On Sunday, Eurocontrol - Europe’s air traffic control authority - declared a ‘zero rate’ warning for flights to and from the Spanish islands, located off the coast of Morocco.

This meant that no flights could take off from or land in the archipelago.

Between Friday and Monday, more than 600 flights were cancelled, with dozens more diverted. Most of the cancellations took place on Sunday when 540 flights were axed.

Tenerife and Gran Canaria - two popular tourist destinations - saw the biggest impact. . . Tens of thousands of passengers fly in and out of these hubs every day.

Many passengers took to social media to vent their frustration.

“Currently at Lanzarote airport. Utter carnage… 23 flights on the board, 23 flights delayed,” user Stephen wrote.

When will flights to and from the Canary Islands start flying again?

The weather has improved, and flights have restarted. All islands have been downgraded to a ‘green’ level of risk by the Spanish meteorological authorities.

Arrivals and departures trackers for Tenerife North Airport and Tenerife South airport show normal service, as does the tracker for Gran Canaria airport.

If your flight was cancelled, airlines are required to rebook you on another flight.

Somehave even launched special charter services to bring stranded travellers home.

On Monday evening, Ryanair organised a rescue flight from Gran Canaria to Cork airport.

"A small number of flights to/from Las Palmas on Sunday, 25 September were cancelled due to bad weather conditions and runway lighting failure, which were entirely beyond Ryanair’s control,” a Ryanair spokesperson said in a statement to CorkBeo.

"Now that the weather has improved, rescue flights have been arranged. We sincerely apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused as a result of these weather disruptions."

If my flight was cancelled, can I claim compensation?

Usually, victims of flight cancellation are entitled to compensation.

But n the case of a 'vis major' event like a storm, airlines have the right to not pay the compensation above for cancellations and delays. ‘Vis major’ is latin for superior force. It refers to events that are neither caused by nor preventable by humans.

Nonetheless, airlines should still provide you with assistance like accommodation or rebooking if your flight was affected by the weather.