Sandstorms that closed the airport at Las Palmas in the Canary Islands over the weekend finally abated enough on Monday to allow it to reopen. Both Norwegian Air and SAS were sending extra aircraft to the popular holiday island of Gran Canaria, to bring home stranded passengers.
All aircraft were subject to techncial and safety checks after the sand storm from Sahara, to make sure they were fit to fly, but Norwegian hoped to get eight of its jets parked in Las Palmas airborne late Monday afternoon.
SAS also hoped to start flying again with extra aircraft to bring 262 passengers back to Oslo. Several flights were already on their way from Oslo to Las Palmas to bring more of the roughly 2,000 Norwegians stuck at the overcrowded airport home.
Conditions outdoors were so bad during the weekend that most opted to stay indoors despite warm temperatures. It was difficult to find available hotel rooms, however, and hundreds of people had to sleep on the floor of the airport. Others who left to find accommodation but returned when none was available also had trouble getting through security control because their electronic boarding cards had expired.
Flights were already full, because of the annual winter holidays in Norway, and even overbooked before the sandstorm hit. Most schools in eastern, southern and northern Norway were closed last week, while schools in western Norway are closed this week, so this past weekend was when many families were traveling back or forth to get away from winter weather that has disappointed many in Norway this year.