Ryanair said later that the flight diversion was due to circumstances out of their control. / sur

Passengers on a Ryanair flight from Dublin to Portugal end up in Spain

Mid-flight passengers learned that the plane was not taking them to the Algarve, but was heading for the Costa del Sol, more than 400 kilometres away, instead

ÁNGEL DE LOS RÍOS Malaga

After a long summer of strikes, it looked as if things had quietened down for the community manager at Ryanair, until this weekend Barry Masterson recounted his experience on Twitter. Masterson, an Irish illustrator, had caught a flight from Dublin to Faro in Portugal, but he ended up at a petrol station in Malaga.

In mid-flight, he and the other passengers learned that not only was the plane not taking them to their destination, the Algarve, but was heading for the Costa del Sol in Spain, more than 400 kilometres away.

“Flight staff are trying to calm the crowd with the promise of the mystery box of answers that someone else will provide when we get in the airport,” he tweeted in a thread which within a few hours had gone viral.

“We’re on a 5 hour bus to Portugal now and we’ve stopped for petrol and pee stops within 5 minutes. I’m never getting out of here. 1 bus for 157 people, good luck to everyone we left behind,” he wrote later. “Got to the Dublin airport 12 hours ago and now I’m in a petrol station in Malaga at 5.41am, send help,” was his following tweet.

A Ryanair spokesperson told the Daily Mirror that the incident had been caused by a strike by French air traffic controllers. “This flight from Dublin to Faro on 16 September diverted to Malaga having missed Faro Airport’s curfew due to disruption from the French Air Traffic Control (ATC) strike, which was entirely beyond our control and impacted all airlines flying to/from/over France that day,” she said.

Sources at the airline said that Ryanair quickly arranged for a coach to transport the passengers from Malaga airport to their final destination.