Chaos at Faro airport

By DAISY SAMPSON [email protected]

Despite the Algarve being thousands of miles away from Iceland, and the airspace of Portugal being open for flights, the knock on effects of the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull have left thousands of passengers stranded in the region as they await news regarding when they will be able to return to their homes in northern Europe.

At the time the Algarve Resident went to press on Wednesday, airspace across Europe and the UK was re-opening for flights and airlines were beginning to resume normal operations.

Passengers patiently wait to check-in.
Passengers patiently wait to check-in.

However, because of the large backlog in flights all passengers are being advised to check with their airlines before arriving at the airport.

Faro airport on Wednesday morning was a scene of “chaos” as check-in desks re-opened and passengers eager to leave Faro checked in for the first flights to leave the Algarve for Northern Europe since last Thursday.

Brenda Barratt, a part-time resident of Vale do Lobo, told the Algarve Resident: “My elderly mother and I were due to fly home to the UK today. However, the airport and the flight company do not appear to have any provision for the elderly or disabled travellers.”

She has booked a ferry crossing and will now drive her car to the UK.  “I will probably have to arrange for the car to be brought back by a transport company to save money on the return journey,” she said.

Meanwhile Luke Harrison from south-east England was due to fly home with EasyJet last Friday.

He told the Algarve Resident: “I found that the information was appalling and discovered the only way of getting information was to collect it from the airport myself. I took it upon myself to get the information and pass it on to other passengers in the same boat as me.”

Luke was staying just outside Odemira and arrived on April 9 for a break in the Algarve. Staying with his wife and two children, the delay has cost him more than 3,000 euros, which he does not believe will be refunded.

A special information desk has been set up at Faro airport to give support and information to passengers who are unable to fly.

Representatives from ANA Airports, the Civil Governor’s office and the tourism board of the Algarve (ERTA) will be available to offer advice on accommodation in the region, medical assistance and other forms of support required.

As the backlog of flights has built up, many people wishing to return to their own countries have looked to other means of transport to return home.

One holidaymaker, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Algarve Resident: “I contacted a taxi firm in Carvoeiro to ask for a quote for a minibus to take myself and my friends to Lisbon airport and was quoted the obscene sum of 3,000 euros when normally such a trip would cost around 350 euros. This is nothing short of daylight robbery.”

Meanwhile Karen and Tim Broadbent, regular visitors to the Algarve, spent 2,800 euros driving to reach Calais after their flight from Faro was cancelled.

Tim Broadbent told the Daily Telegraph: “Because I own a company, every day that I am away we are losing money so we really needed to get back.”

The family from Andover in Hampshire visit the Algarve every year but said they would not be flying to the region again: “We are not doing it; it is not worth it in case this happens again.  We will get the Santander ferry next time,” said Tim Broadbent.

All passengers who have flights booked are advised to check with the airlines before travelling.

Do you have a view on this story? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]