Low-cost airline Ryanair has sacked six cabin staff over a photograph of them appearing to sleep on the floor of an airport crew room, insisting that the picture was staged to back a 'false claim.'
The six cabin staff, who were based in Porto in Portugal, were dismissed from their jobs on Monday 'for breach of contract on grounds of gross misconduct,' Ryanair said in a statement on Wednesday.
The airline said the group had staged 'a fake photograph to support a false claim - widely reported in international media outlets - that they were 'forced to sleep on the floor' of the Malaga crew room.'
It said their action had 'damaged their employer's reputation and caused an irreparable breach of trust' with Ryanair.
After the photograph circulated on social media last month, Ryanair posted footage from a security camera in the room, which showed uniformed staff sitting on chairs in the room before some of them went to lie on the floor to pose for the picture.
Portuguese trade union SNPVAC, which represents the staff, said earlier the photograph was 'a gesture of protest' against the conditions they endured after they were stranded in Spain by a storm.
The Ryanair staff were not given hotel rooms and were left 'without the minimum legal requirements for suitable accommodation,' with inadequate access to food and drink, and enough seating for only one-third of them, the union said.
It said Ryanair's claim that the viral photograph was staged was itself 'fake news.'