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Canary island airports reopen as haze clears

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Madrid (AFP)

All eight airports on Spain's Canary Islands reopened on Monday a day after a sandstorm shrouded the archipelago, forcing their closure, the transport ministry said.

"The overnight improvement in the weather has allowed the resumption of air traffic in all airports in the Canary Islands," the ministry tweeted.

ENAIRE, the public body that manages Spanish airspace, said flights had resumed after "an improvement in the haze".

Air travel was disrupted on the archipelago on Saturday after strong winds carrying red sand from the Sahara shrouded the tourist hotspot in a murky haze, forcing the cancellation or diversion of flights to and from the islands of Gran Canaria and Tenerife.

Some flights briefly resumed Sunday morning before Spanish airport operator AENA was forced to close all of the islands' eight airports -- the three in Gran Canaria and Tenerife as well as five others.

"Air transport professionals don't remember seeing such adverse weather conditions for air transport in the Canary Islands," Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos tweeted on Sunday.

Located off the coast of Morocco, the Canary Islands are a popular tourist destination for northern Europeans seeking winter sunshine.

They received 13.1 million foreign visitors last year, according to national statistics institute INE figures, making it Spain's third most visited region.

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