Chaos at Gran Canaria airport during first busy weekend

by Lorraine Williamson
airport chaos

LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA – Air traffic to and from the Canary Islands shot up over the weekend. That’s good news for the archipelago at the start of the tourist peak season. However, as it was the busiest period for a long time, it left countless disgruntled travellers. 

The travellers complained on social media about endless queues and chaos at Gran Canaria airport. Tour operators from some of Europe’s major markets are warning of the damage the spread of images of ‘massive chaos’ from ‘pissed passengers’ could do to the island’s image. And according to, the disorder at the airport was the result of a succession of mistakes. 

Succession of mistakes

Several factors are believed to have led to the chaos at the airport in Las Palmas. 

Firstly, the landing of several flights coincided with a high occupancy rate. This is a situation that has not happened often since the outbreak of the pandemic. 

Furthermore, the process was further complicated by health checks put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19. “Apparently only 8 out of 14 security checks were open,” explains a spokesperson for Nordic Leisure Travel Group. 

AENA pointed out that passport control for British tourists – mandatory since 1 January 2021 – was struggling with saturation. 

Travellers also had to deal with long lines at the taxis for transport to their accommodations. According to Francisco Mendoza, president of the association for independent taxi drivers (Asprotac), the Telde and Ingenio taxis – authorised to carry passengers to and from the airport – had insufficient capacity to cope with the influx of tourists. 

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Pre-pandemic crowds 

On Saturday, November 6, Gran Canaria Airport (LPA) handled 424 commercial flights. That number is again reaching pre-pandemic levels in that regard. Air traffic controllers also had to carry out a titanic job. They had to prevent the ash cloud from the volcanic eruption on La Palma and the increased airport activity from impacting the operations. 

‘Pissed off passengers’ and ‘crying children’ 

The problem arose on the ground where travellers have to wait endlessly to pass the Covid checks. They then had to queue to collect luggage. And once outside they had to wait a very long time to have a taxi or bus to the hotel. The result: “pissed” off passengers, “crying children” and images of disgruntled travellers spreading like wildfire on social media. This raised fears among authorities and entrepreneurs on the island that they may turn off many potential tourists. 

Up to 2.5 hours in line 

“They spend more time in line than they needed to get to Gran Canaria,” sources complain to the tour operator consulted by Tourinews, who are demanding better organisation. Claes Pellvik, communications manager of Nordic Leisure Travel Group (NLTG), claims there was “enormous chaos”. On Saturday, 2,400 of its customers were at the airport and had to queue “up to 2.5 hours to get through the health check and pick up their bags”. 

Island government will not tolerate repetition 

The government of Gran Canaria is demanding immediate action from the Spanish airport authority AENA to prevent more chaos like last weekend’s, reports Canarian President Antonio Morales has assured in a note that the island council will “not tolerate a repeat” of the “embarrassing spectacle that played out at the airport last weekend with queues and waiting times of more than two hours”. 

The president attributed the disorder to “organisational deficiencies in the airport complex” and has called on AENA to “fulfil its mission” in view of the foreseeable increase in passengers. “Gran Canaria needs efficient and well-organised airport services,” the president stressed. 

“It cannot be that while the entrepreneurs on the island have worked intensively to facilitate the return of tourists, AENA and the health service are not able to guarantee a normal arrival for people who want to come and enjoy our island,” concluded. morals. 

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