Ryanair Says Shot of Crew Asleep on Airport Floor Was Staged

(Bloomberg) -- Ryanair Holdings Plc’s year-long dispute with unions took a bizarre turn with the release of CCTV footage the discount carrier says shows cabin crew staging a photo of them being forced to sleep on the floor at Malaga airport in Spain.

The original shot, posted Sunday on a Facebook page critical of Ryanair, appeared to depict staff bedded down at the terminal after being stranded by storms, and was accompanied by the suggestion that the company had “left them there.”

Ryanair initially apologized for the situation, saying there’d been no available hotel rooms, before posting the footage Wednesday with the claim that the initial image was a fake photo. “This video proves that the original picture was staged and no crew slept on the floor,” it added in a statement.

The SNPVAC union, which represents the Portuguese crew, argued that the picture was an accurate illustration of what had happened, with 24 people left overnight without food, drink or enough chairs to sit down. “Ryanair did us all a favor by providing evidence that in fact there were no minimum conditions for their employees to spend the night with dignity,” it said.

The incident comes amid an increasingly fractious clash between Ryanair and staff demanding sweetened contracts after the Dublin-based company was forced to accept unionization. Europe’s biggest budget airline has been rocked by strikes over the summer as Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary seeks to minimize the impact on costs.

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