The airline argues that the image was in fact staged and that crew members only spent a short period of time in the crew room.
Ryanair has sacked six members of cabin crew after a picture of them sleeping on the floor of a Spanish airport went viral.
The Irish budget airline was criticised after the picture, which it claims was staged, was widely shared on social media.
It showed crew members lying side by side on the floor of Malaga Airport on the Costa del Sol on 14 October after four Ryanair planes destined for Porto, in Portugal, were diverted to Malaga during Storm Leslie.
Staff took the “protest photo” after reportedly being left with just eight seats between them for the night.
Ryanair has argued that the image was in fact staged and that crew members only spent a short period of time in the crew room.
The company’s official Twitter page also shared CCTV footage of the crew members appearing to arrange themselves on the floor and pose for the sleeping photo.
A Ryanair spokeswoman confirmed to Sky News that all six workers have been dismissed.
She said: “All six cabin crew members in Porto were dismissed on Mon 5 November for breach of contract on grounds of gross misconduct, after staging 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, which was behaviour which damaged their employer’s reputation and caused an irreparable breach of trust with these six persons.”
The SNPVAC union, which represents Portuguese airline crews, alleged that 24 Ryanair crew members were forced to spend the night on the airport floor without access to food or water.
More than 50,000 people have signed our petition calling for televised leaders’ debates before elections – have you?
The union posted the image on the Facebook group “Ryanair MUST change”.
“This is Porto crew last night stranded on the floor of Malaga crew room. They were diverted due to the storm and the company left them there,” the caption reads.
SNPVAC added in a statement on Facebook that crew were left “without the minimum legal requirements for suitable accommodation, with no access to food or drinks and with only enough seats for 1/3 of the people there”.
It added: “Despite the Malaga region providing at least 540 hotels, with more than 85,000 beds, Ryanair was unable to find any accommodation.
“Ryanair was the only company that couldn’t provide their customers and their employees suitable accommodation.
“The stranded crew, in a gesture of protest, took a photo that immediately became viral. Laying on the floor was the only option to rest; their ‘suitable accommodation’.”
Social media users continued to criticise Ryanair following the video expose.
Twitter user Jim Atkinson said: “Everyone already KNEW it was a protest picture you knuckleheads! The fact remains: you stranded FOUR CREWS in an airport terminal for the night and made no discernible attempt to find them proper lodging or even food and water!”
Another user, Steve Lemmens, said: “If you would have provided hotel accommodation to crew. They wouldn’t have to do such things. Shame on you once more, Ryanair.”