Riot police called amid airport protest (VIDEO)
Istanbul Airport, the global hub of Turkish Airlines and one of the busiest airports in Europe, closed on Monday in the wake of heavy snowfall. Flights remain suspended until midnight on Wednesday
Some of the stranded passengers were taken to hotels, but scores more had to sleep at the airport. Multiple videos on Twitter, posted since Tuesday, show people napping on the floors, chairs, and even on the luggage belts. Many passengers, some of whom have been stuck in the airport for two days, have complained that they have not been provided with food, nor with a proper place to sleep.
Outrage over the conditions prompted passengers to stage a spontaneous protest. Footage features the angry crowd chanting, “We need hotel, we need hotel,” with one woman crying hysterically: “We are tired, we are fed up.”
'We need a hotel' - Passengers protest cancellation of flights at #Istanbul#AirportFlights were suspended in the afternoon on Monday due to heavy #snowfall. Turkish Airlines (#THY) extended the suspension of its flights to and from #IstanbulAirport until midnight Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/B1JjZ813kr— Ruptly (@Ruptly) January 26, 2022
Other videos show riot police arriving at the airport, to the further indignation of the passengers and social media users. According to Ali Kidik, a member of the Istanbul municipal assembly, law enforcement was called “to prevent the protests at Istanbul Airport becoming excessive.”
İstanbul Havalimanı'nda mahsur kalan yolcuların "Otel istiyoruz" protestolarının ardından havalimanına çevik kuvvet girdi pic.twitter.com/NfcnaV83I1— Yol TV (@YolTV) January 25, 2022
On Wednesday, the airport authorities said on Twitter that “due to adverse weather conditions, we have no passengers waiting at our terminal.”
This claim was immediately questioned by commenters, with one calling it “a lie.”
“I personally – and multiple groups of people around me – are still waiting for their flights for 3rd day in a row. People still sleep on a floor. Lots of people report that they are boarded on a plane and are waiting to depart inside the planes for 5-10 hr,” a user said.
Turkish Airlines CEO Bilal Eksi advised passengers “to check the status of your flight” before heading to the airport. He also announced that “flights at Istanbul Airport [had] gradually started to return to normal.”
A total of 681 flights are planned for today, with two runways already open and the third one expected to become operational soon.