Saharan sand has caused disruption to flights bound for the Canary Islands this weekend, as the Calima hits Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.

Known as the Calima, the meteorological phenomenon is not uncommon across the archipelago, particularly during winter. High pressure and sand storms over the Sahara desert drive hot, south-easterly winds towards the islands, carrying dust and sand that is deposited on outdoor objects – the result is poor visibility and often oppressive heat.

The Met Office describes the Calima as “rare” but advises that “it may briefly interrupt your stay”, adding that people might want to stay indoors if it causes problems, such as with breathing.

Lanzarote and Fuerteventura are the easternmost Canary Islands, which are closest to Africa and as a result are often the first to experience Calima winds. Flights to both islands were disrupted on Sunday and Monday, as well as Gran Canaria and Tenerife. These include a Jet2 flight from Birmingham, which was diverted to Gran Canaria on Sunday and two Tui flights that were delayed overnight to East Midlands and Gatwick airports. There are ongoing delays to arrivals and departures at Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and Tenerife on Monday.

More on Spain Travel

A Tui spokesperson told i that the delays to its services on Sunday were “caused by two previous flights being unable to land in Lanzarote due to poor visibility”. Flights have been rescheduled for Monday afternoon.

While Tui was able to source accommodation for many of its customers that had to wait for a flight the following day, “shortages in the area” and restricted access to the departure lounge for its staff meant that hotels were not allocated for all customers.

Tui says this was an issue that affected customers “across all airlines”. The airline has apologised for the inconvenience and has said it will contact customers that it could not accommodate directly.

Meanwhile, Spanish airport operator Aena recommends passengers travelling to Lanzarote and Fuerteventura on Monday should check their flight status with their airline for the latest updates.

Tui’s 3.40pm departure from Lanzarote to East Midlands is delayed by around half an hour, with similar minor delays to easyJet and Ryanair services from Tenerife.

The current weather forecast for the Canary Islands is for hot temperatures on Monday, reaching 28C in Tenerife where there will be some cloud. It will be cloudier and hotter in Gran Canaria while Lanzarote will still have some haze, though not as intense as Sunday.

Generally, weather conditions are improving over the coming days, with disruption expected to continue to reduce. Calima conditions are usually most intense in the first two days, clearing by day five.

Calima conditions were recently experienced during February half term, although flights were not disrupted, however the Met Office cautions that they can be a feature at any time of the year.

Passengers whose flights are disrupted by weather conditions are not usually able to claim compensation, as they are deemed an extraordinary circumstance if air traffic control is forced to adjust the frequency of arrivals and departures as a result.

However, those whose flights are delayed by more than three hours are due “care and assistance” – usually reasonable amounts of food, drink and overnight accommodation if the flight departs the following day.

By admin