Ryanair has sacked six cabin crew members who were photographed sleeping on the floor of a Spanish airport last month due to flight disruptions.
The low-cost Irish airline alleges that the image, which has been widely circulated on social media, is a “fake” and the staff had subsequently been dismissed for gross misconduct on Monday.
First shared on Twitter by Jim Atkinson, the image purported to show crew members based in Portugal forced to sleep on the floor after flights to the city of Porto were disrupted “due to storms.”
Three days after the image was first posted, Ryanair’s official Twitter account shared CCTV footage that it claimed exposed the employees, showing them posing on the floor for the photograph.
In justifying its actions, the airline claimed the behaviour of the cabin crew had damaged its reputation “and caused an irreparable breach of trust,” per CNN.
While the fact that the crews were stranded in the airport is undisputed, a spokesman for Ryanair told the BBC that “no crew slept on the floor” and had only spent a “short period of time in the crew room before being moved to a VIP lounge.”
When the image first surfaced, Portugal’s National Union of Civil Aviation Personnel (SNPVAC) said that the staff had been given no access to food or drink.
“The stranded crew, in a gesture of protest, took a photo that immediately became viral: Laying on the floor was the only option to rest; their “suitable accommodation,” it said in a statement, per CNN.
Ryanair did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.