Planes were diverted to Birmingham and East Midlands airports
Hundreds of passengers flying to Manchester airport on Sunday evening arrived several hours late after their planes were diverted.
The airport was closed after firefighters were called to provide urgent medical assistance to a passenger who became ill, until the ambulance service could attend.
As a result the minimum level of fire cover was unavailable, and the airport was unable to accept arrivals and departures for an hour.
After flying a holding pattern for some time, a Ryanair Boeing 737 from Ibiza diverted to East Midlands. The jet, due in at 8.20pm, eventually flew on to Manchester, arriving just after 11pm.
It took off for the return flight to Ibiza just after midnight, arriving on the Spanish island at 3am local time.
The final British Airways flight of the day from Heathrow circled over Cheshire before the pilots decided to fly halfway back to London and land at Birmingham.
The plane later took off for the 66-mile flight to Manchester, arriving nearly three hours late.
Many other aircraft flew holding patterns including an Air France arrival from Paris, KLM from Amsterdam and a Ryanair jet that spent half-an-hour making circuits over Merseyside and Greater Manchester before finally touching down.
The rescue and firefighting service (RFFS) is an essential element of every passenger airport, with strict provisions on levels of cover.
The Civil Aviation Authority says: “During flight operations, sufficient trained and competent personnel should be designated to be readily available to ride the rescue and fire fighting vehicles and to operate the equipment at maximum capacity.”