Istanbul Airport officials announced that flights will remain suspended until midnight on Wednesday in the wake of massive snowfall.
Some of the passengers stranded in one of the busiest air hubs in Europe were taken to hotels, but scores more had to sleep at the airport.
Passengers were sleeping on the floors, chairs, and even on the luggage belts. Many travelers, 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. The angry crowd was chanting “We need hotel, we need hotel,” with one woman crying hysterically: “We are tired, we are fed up.”
The riot police had to be dispatched to the airport. According to Ali Kidik, a member of the Istanbul municipal assembly, law enforcement was called “to prevent the protests at Istanbul Airport from becoming excessive.”
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 social media users, 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.