Six Ryanair cabin crew members that were pictured sleeping on the floor of a Spanish airport office have been fired, reported the BBC.
According to Ryanair, the photo was staged, and no crew members slept on the floor when 28 Ryanair crew members were stranded in Malaga, Spain after their Porto-bound flights were diverted on Oct 14.
The image has been widely shared online and Portuguese cabin crew union SNPVAC also criticised the airline.
Ryanair confirmed with the BBC the sacking of the six employees on Tuesday (Nov 6), adding that the photo had led to media reports that damaged the company's reputation and "caused an irreparable breach of trust with these six persons".
The photo was first posted on Twitter on Oct 14 by user Jim Atkinson, who also said in another tweet: "It is openly admitted by the people in the photo that it is a 'protest picture'. They were trapped in a small space for 5 hours - from 1am to 6am - and they wanted to communicate to the world that Ryanair provides no bed to stranded overnight crew."
The company admitted the crew had spent "a short time" in the airport office because a bank holiday in Spain meant nearby hotels were full, but refuted claims anyone had slept on the floor, reported The Irish Independent.
Ryanair also released closed-circuit television footage showing how the crew lay down on the floor to pose for the picture that made the rounds on social media.
Ms Luciana Passo, head of SNPVAC, said: "Ryanair thinks it was harmed by the publication of that photograph when it was no more than a show of the crew members' justified feeling of indignation."
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.