Updated 5.40pm with Air Malta statement

A Maltese passenger stranded for two days at Munich airport due to heavy snowfall has described the situation as a “mess”, with passengers still waiting for a flight home after days of sleeping at the airport.

“It’s turning into a real human issue – people haven’t showered for three days and have had no proper rest or sleep,” passenger Alexis Callus told Times of Malta from a hotel close to Munich airport, where his Air Malta flight on Friday night was cancelled.

A vehicle valiantly tries to clear a path at Munich Airport. Video: Alexis Callus.

“It’s a mess and elderly people, those with children and disabled users suffer the most,” he said, adding he was starting to feel unwell after days of disrupted sleep and lack of warm food.

Callus explained the heavy snowfall had left food deliveries unable to get through and transport services unable to operate, leading to staff shortages and meaning facilities like showers were out of service.

He said passengers had been forced to sleep on benches or the floor, subsisting on nuts, chocolate and water from snack trolleys taken off planes from other airlines and brought inside the airport after food outlets quickly ran out of food.

Lufthansa brought out blankets and cushions on Saturday, Callus said but added he had already developed bruises from sleeping on the airport benches beforehand.

“Yesterday, I saw a mother with a young child down to her last nappies, and nobody has any spare clothes as our luggage was never released,” he said.

Despite the challenging situation, Callus said Air Malta's head office had not reached out to the passengers left stranded at the airport.

"At least Lufthansa contacted passengers; Air Malta didn’t do anything. And even when we called them, they would promise an email confirming us being booked on a new flight, but the email never showed up.

“I haven’t heard from them in over two days,” he said, adding that while Lufthansa had provided its customers with vouchers early into the ordeal, all passengers had received from Air Malta was a glass of water while stuck on the plane on Friday night.

A plane covered in snow in Munich. Photo: Alexis Callus.A plane covered in snow in Munich. Photo: Alexis Callus.

A broken journey

Callus arrived at the airport on Friday evening on a Lufthansa flight from Hamburg – a journey he says should never have happened.

“They [Lufthansa] should never have let us fly that night,” he said, speculating that if his flight had been diverted to Frankfurt instead, he would probably be home in Malta.

After waiting onboard a plane bound for Malta for two hours that night, the passengers and crew were forced to abandon the plane after it became clear they were not going to be able to take off, taking refuge inside the airport along with passengers from other flights.

“Air Malta was caught off-guard; even the captain and crew were stranded there,” said Callus.

Despite the best efforts of the crew, who Callus described as “very kind,” the situation at the airport remained challenging, and with no flight available on Sunday, he decided to head to a hotel in a taxi.

“I was lucky to have support from my employer and was able to get to a hotel, but not everyone was so lucky,” he said, explaining that when he returned to the airport at 5am on Monday, he saw people who had been forced to remain at the airport since Friday.

“They should never have let us fly that night"- Alexis Callus

Despite planes having started to leave Munich airport on Sunday, on Monday morning Callus was still unable to find a flight back home.

He has now returned to the hotel to wait for a Lufthansa flight to Zurich on Tuesday, from where he plans to travel to Malta. However, his recent experiences and the ongoing adverse weather conditions have left him less than optimistic.

"I’m sure my flight to Zurich tomorrow will be cancelled,” he said.

The relative of another passenger told Times of Malta spoke that although her mother had managed to fly out of Munich on Sunday after being on a waiting list to travel, her luggage had been lost.

“It's all very chaotic," she said.

Air Malta not allowed to operate from Munich on Monday

In comments to Times of Malta late on Monday, Air Malta said Munich airport authorities have not granted the national airline permission to operate on Monday.

"The airport continues to operate with limited capabilities and as such they are unable to accommodate all flights and are selectively granting approvals. This was not by Air Malta’s choice."

In an earlier statement over the weekend, the airline said that customers affected by the cancellations who booked directly through it can request a full refund by emailing refundrequest@airmalta.com.

Customers who booked through travel agents should contact their agent to submit a refund request on their behalf, the airline said. 

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