Angry Ryanair passengers reportedly took a plane hostage in a 'barbaric' revolt before abusing staff and stealing alcoholic drinks.
The incident took place on a Rabat-Paris flight carrying 170 people on 11 January after a passenger became seriously ill and the plane was forced to make an unscheduled stop in Madrid seeking medical assistance, according to French daily Metronews.
As they left the Spanish capital, passengers were told they would land in Nantes instead and be taken to Paris by bus the next morning, complying with night-time noise restrictions at Beauvais airport in Paris.
As the two-and-a-half hour flight turned into a 24-hour ordeal, angry passengers reportedly staged a rebellion, abusing staff and stealing duty free products.
Staff described the incident as 'barbaric' and 'extremely disrespectful'.
A Nantes airport employee told Metronews: "They pillaged the aircraft for food, drinks – especially alcoholic drinks – cigarettes and perfumes, anything of any value.
"They behaved like animals towards the plane, the crew and members of the airport’s ground staff."
One passenger defended the revolt: "We were tired, on edge, because the situation was badly managed, we were hungry and thirsty and no one was giving us any information.
"After seven hours locked in a plane – instead of the scheduled two-and-a-half – people need to eat. We simply helped ourselves."
Ryanair said reports in the French press were 'inaccurate'.
A spokesperson added: "There was no mutiny on arrival in Nantes, passengers were provided with overnight hotel accommodation and were transferred by coach to Paris Beauvais the following morning, in line with Ryanair’s policies and obligations.
"Ryanair apologised sincerely to all passengers affected by this delay."
The incident comes as the budget airline works to win back disenchanted travellers and deal with its image problem in a bid to cement its position against rival easyJet. Chief executive Michael O’Leary recently told shareholders the company must “eliminate things that unnecessarily piss people off”.
Ryanair has reduced its controversial excess baggage fee, where passengers pay €20 (£16) per kilo of luggage over the allotted weight limit, to €10- in line with rivals.
The company has also announced plans to improve its website, revamp its customer service on Twitter and introduce “quiet flights”, which will be in operation between 9pm and 8am, with minimal public announcements and dimmed cabin lights so passengers can sleep.