Passengers on a Ryanair flight from Malaga to Milan fainted and had panic attacks when they were stuck on a plane without air conditioning during a sweltering heatwave that has enveloped much of southern Europe in 40+ Celcius temperatures.
Temperatures at Malaga Airport in Southern Spain on July 19 reportedly hit 42 Celcius as emergency medical responders tended to passengers on the tarmac after they became unwell while trapped onboard the stifling hot Boeing 737.
Ryanair flight 4949 was due to depart Malaga at around 10 am on Wednesday, but after a technical hitch delayed the flight, passengers were left onboard as engineers tried to fix the plane.
The aircraft was parked at a gate at Malaga with a ground air supply system, but this was broken so no cool air was being pumped onboard the stranded plane.
A video shared by Italian TikTok influencer Marco Ferrero showed passengers desperately fanning themselves to stay cool as the temperature onboard quickly started to rise.
In one clip shared by Ferrero, sweat is seen dripping off his arm as he sat on the plane, while in other clips passengers argued with cabin crew as tempers started to fray.
“At one point, I seriously thought that I could no longer breathe and that something was happening to me,” Ferrero said in his video. “It was like being inside a sauna but with the door locked”.
Ferrero says passengers were eventually let off the plane and onto the tarmac after more than three hours, at which point, ambulances had to be called to care for some of the passengers.
In a statement, Ryanair explained: “This flight from Malaga to Milan (19 July) was delayed due to a minor technical issue with the aircraft. To avoid missing the flight’s take-off slot, passengers remained onboard while engineers serviced the aircraft.”
“Unfortunately, the aircraft was not cleared for service in time and missed the slot and passengers were disembarked,” the statement continued.
“As Malaga Airport’s air conditioning was not working at the allocated stand for this flight, the crew requested to reposition at another stand where air conditioning was working, and cooled the plane before re-boarding passengers. Once re-boarded, passengers were provided with water and departed safely for Milan 10 minutes later.”
The other main way to keep the aircraft cool on the ground is by using the aircraft Auxillary Power Unit (APU), which is essentially a smaller jet turbine engine in the tail cone of the aircraft. Using the APU, however, is expensive, and some airlines try to avoid using the APU for long periods due to its environmental impact.
It’s not known, however, whether the APU was even working on this aircraft.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.