Nearly 200 Mexicans stuck at Madrid airport for days

Mexicans stranded at Madrid-Barajas, 4 Aug 16 Image copyright EPA
Image caption Many of the stranded Mexicans now lack the cash to afford airport prices

Nearly 200 Mexicans have been stranded at Madrid-Barajas airport for days - some for as long as two weeks - waiting to fly home from Spain.

They have Aeromexico budget tickets, issued to airline staff and their relatives, which enable them to fly only if seats become available.

The airline says it advised ticket-holders not to fly during the peak holiday season.

Most are sleeping rough at Barajas, lacking funds to stay at Madrid hotels.

The cheap tickets they bought are not available to the general public.

Aeromexico rejected a plea from the 183 stranded Mexicans to send an extra plane to pick them up, Spain's Efe news agency reported.

Public charity

A Facebook group called Mexicanas en Madrid issued a public appeal for help.

"It would be good to supply them with food, drinks, damp towels, spare bottles for water, fruit," their post said, adding that offers of temporary accommodation would be welcome too.

El Pais newspaper said some Madrid residents had offered to put Mexicans up for a few nights.

A 67-year-old Spaniard called Rafael said "I have a big house and I sympathised with these people. My wife and I decided to come here with our empty car to pick up a family or six needy people".

Mexican doctor Dulce Olveda, 65, told El Pais that there had been up to four Aeromexico flights but none of the stranded passengers had been given a seat. "People no longer have the funds to survive in the airport," she said.

Several passengers sent a group letter to the Mexican consul in Madrid requesting help, but embassy sources said they could not resolve "a recurring problem with this company [Aeromexico]".

However, Consul Bernardo Cordova told the Mexicans at the airport's Terminal One that he was in contact with Aeromexico and was assessing the passengers' individual needs.