German air accident investigators have begun an inquiry into the sudden loss of pressure that occurred on a Ryanair flight from Dublin to Croatia, which forced the plane to make an emergency landing at Frankfurt and resulted in some passengers being hospitalised.
The German authorities have contacted the Irish Air Accident Investigation Unit, informing them of the inquiry. AAIU will appoint a representative to assist the German authorities upon the receipt of a formal notice, which is due today.
During the flight, passengers reported a loss of pressure in the cabin, oxygen masks descended and some experienced earaches as well as headaches and nausea. According to the Frankfurt police, 33 passengers were taken to the hospital.
A log on flightradar24.com showed the flight descending from 37,000 to 10,000 feet over a seven-minute period 80 minutes into the flight.
The Ryanair statement said the plane "landed normally and customers disembarked, where a small number received medical attention as a precaution".
German police said 33 of the 189 passengers on board were hospitalised, some bleeding from their ears. It's understood no passengers are receiving hospital treatment now. German air accident investigators said the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder were being secured and crew and passengers would be interviewed.
“One minute we were sitting on the plane, and the next minute, there was intense pain,” said Minerva Galvan, a Spanish journalist currently living in Cork, who was on the flight. “I look around, and everyone was in pain. We were descending really fast.”
According to her, some passengers suffered bleeding from the ears as the cabin pressure dropped down. Even after the emergency landing, she describes Ryanair’s treatment of the passengers as “awful,” as at the airport, most passengers were left to their own devices.
“No one from Ryanair was there- it was just the airport authorities taking care of people who were bleeding, and no one else,” she said.
According to Minerva, stranded passengers were given food vouchers several hours after the landing.
The airline said it had agreed to pay for hotels for the affected passengers but there was a "shortage of available accommodation. Ryanair sincerely apologises for any inconvenience."
In a statement today, Ryanair said: “Ryanair has contacted all customers from the flight to offer them any additional support they need. 165 customers flew onward to Zadar on Saturday morning on a replacement aircraft and have received a full refund and free flight voucher.
“The 19 customers that travelled by coach have received a full refund, free flight voucher and €200 to cover meals and incidental expenses. We have contacted the 5 remaining customers who did not travel on the flight or coach and we will provide them will any assistance they require.
“We are fully assisting the German authorities with their investigation and until this process has been completed, we will not be making any further comment.”