An Italian couple about to miss a flight home from a holiday in Malta ran onto the airport tarmac in an attempt to hail a Ryanair plane.
Matteo Clementi, 26, and girlfriend Enrica Apollonio, 23, were running late because of traffic on route from their hotel to Malta International Airport (MIA).
They checked in but were unable to board their flight in the traditional manner because the gate had already closed, a Maltese court heard.
The couple then went to the next gate, forced open a door, ran down onto the apron and began signalling to the pilots to let them onto the plane, the Times of Malta reported.
The plane was still parked but its engines were on and the stairs had been removed. The couple were then arrested by security staff who had chased after them.
Clementi and Apollonio, who spent her 23rd birthday in a cell because of the incident, admitted to entering the airport’s restricted zone, and were fined €2,329, which they will pay in instalments.
Prosecuting, Inspector Silvio Magro urged the court to impose a fine on the Italians, saying a suspended prison sentence would send a message that Malta took airport security breaches lightly.
A spokesperson for MIA told the newspaper that the couple had breached one of the emergency fire doors and not a security door, adding that their actions were beyond the airport’s control and were not a result of any negligence on the part of MIA staff.
The spokesperson added:
“MIA staff and partners responded to this situation immediately and effectively, ensuring that the passengers were apprehended and passed on to the police. MIA regrets that a holiday to Malta had to end in this way but reminds passengers that safety and security are of the utmost importance at any airport and such issues cannot be dealt with lightly.”