Ryanair has dismissed six cabin crew members who were involved in a photograph of them which appeared to show them lying on the floor at Madrid Airport because they had nowhere to sleep when their planes were grounded due to bad weather.

In a statement, Ryanair confirmed all six cabin crew members in Portugal were dismissed yesterday for breach of contract on grounds of gross misconduct. 

The airline said they 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.

Ryanair said this was behaviour which damaged their employer's reputation and caused what they called an "irreparable" breach of trust with the six staff members.

After the photograph was disseminated on social media, Ryanair originally apologised for the fact that accommodation could not be found for the staff.

However, the airline subsequently posted CCTV footage of the crew room allegedly showing that the photo had been staged, and that there were a number of plastic seats in the room.

It is unclear whether the staff had been informed that the room was being monitored, or if their permission was sought to broadcast the footage.