Sandstorm causes disruption on Spain's Canary Islands

Author thumbnail
The Local Spain/AFP - [email protected]
Sandstorm causes disruption on Spain's Canary Islands
A satellite image shows the sandstorm blasting the Canary Islands from the east. Photo: NASA

Airports on Spain's Canary Islands reopened on Monday although service was disrupted after a sandstorm hit the archipelago, airport authorities said.


All eight airports on Spain's Canary Islands reopened on Monday a day after a sandstorm shrouded the archipelago, forcing their closure, the transport ministry said.

"The overnight improvement in the weather has allowed the resumption of air traffic in all airports in the Canary Islands," the ministry tweeted.   

ENAIRE, the public body that manages Spanish airspace, said flights had resumed after "an improvement in the haze".

Air travel was first disrupted on the archipelago on Saturday after strong winds carrying red sand from the Sahara shrouded the tourist hotspot, forcing flights to and from the islands of Gran Canaria and Tenerife to be cancelled or diverted.

Holidaymakers faced cancellations and delays over the weekend. Photo AFP

The airports were reopened on Monday morning Spanish airport operator AENA said, but warned that they were operating with "reduced capacity". Travellers were advised to check the status of the flight with the airline.



On sunday AENA was forced to close all eight airports in the Canaries -- the three in Gran Canaria and Tenerife as well as five others.

"Visibility is very low," a spokeswoman for the airport operator said.

AENA said flights were being diverted to mainland Spain as well as to Cape Verde, Morocco, Mauritania and Portugal.

In a tweet, Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos thanked these countries for their "solidarity" and said air transport professionals "do not remember such adverse weather for air transport in the Canary Islands."

The regional government declared a state of alert on Saturday and advised people to keep doors and windows closed, avoid non-essential car travel and stay away from coastal areas.

Spain's national weather service warned that winds of up to 120 kilometres (75 miles) were set to buffet the Canaries until Monday.

Strong winds also prevented water-dropping aircraft from putting out fires near Tasarte village in southwest Gran Canaria, which have scorched around 300 hectares of land and forced 500 people to be evacuated, as well as in the neighbouring island of Tenerife.

About 1,000 locals and tourists were evacuated in Tenerife as a precaution because of the risk from blazes which broke out near built-up areas in six municipalities on the north of the island amid scorching temperatures, said the head of the local government of Tenerife, Pedro Marin.

"We are facing a completely unusual situation. It is the first time that so many fires have broken out in so many municipalities at the same time, and in different places," he told a news conference.

Located off the coast of Morocco, the Canary Islands are a popular tourist destination for northern Europeans seeking winter sunshine.

The archipelago received 13.1 million foreign visitors last year, according to national statistics institute INE figures, making it Spain's third most visited region.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also